8:15 PM EDT
Bob Goodlatte, R-VA 6th

Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Speaker, over the next hour we will be paying tribute to our colleague and friend, Representative LARRY COMBEST, who announced in November of 2002 that he was retiring from Congress at the end of this month.

It is a real privilege and honor for me to participate in this special order, because LARRY has been a friend and a mentor to me for more than 10 years now since I first became a Member of the House and joined the House Committee on Agriculture. He served as our chairman for 4 years. He has very graciously traveled to my district to meet with my farmers and community leaders and talk about matters of concern to them and has truly been a great help to many of us here in the Congress.

LARRY COMBEST has also faithfully served his own constituents, his home State of Texas and his country, for the past 18 years.

His greatest legislative accomplishment lies in his shepherding through of the landmark 2002 Farm Bill, which President Bush signed into law last year. He and other members of the committee began work on the bill 3 years ago when the agriculture community was in the throes of a severe economic depression. Under LARRY'S leadership, the farm bill was eventually signed into law, reflecting his goal of providing a dependable safety net that farmers could rely on when tough economic times arise,

as they inevitably will.

President Dwight Eisenhower once remarked, ``Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you are 1,000 miles from the cornfield.''

LARRY understood the fundamental concept that legislators in Washington cannot craft effective farm policy if they are not in touch with the day-to-day struggles of rural America. With this in mind, the Committee on Agriculture, under LARRY'S leadership, held 10 field hearings across the country before actually sitting down to craft the farm bill. They drew high attendance and over 200 witnesses.

For his tireless work on behalf of the farm community, he received countless accolades, among them the Gerald W. Thomas Outstanding Agriculturalist Award for Public Service, the Lubbock Area Foundation Hero of the Year Award, and the Legislator of the Year from the National Association of Farm Service Agency Employees.

While LARRY was a consistent voice for agriculture, his work in Congress did not end there. He is a senior Member of the Committee on Small Business, where he has earned a reputation as a fiscally responsible Member of Congress who serves as a reliable steward of taxpayer money.

[Time: 20:30]

As evidence of this commitment, his first day in Congress he cosponsored the balanced budget amendment. He has also been a leader on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and has lent previous experience in the military affairs and in intelligence matters to the Congress, and that has also been widely recognized and acknowledged.

In recognition of his efforts, he has been the recipient of many recent awards, including the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce's Distinguished Service Award, Leader of the Year in Service to Agriculture by Progressive Farmer Magazine, the Independent Bankers Association of Texas 2002 Trailblazer Award, and the Heritage of Odessa Foundation's 2002 Award for Excellence in Community Service in Government.

Additionally, each year the National Federation of Independent Businesses recognizes LARRY as a guardian of small business, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has consistently honored him with their Prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Award.

In addition to his abundant legislative accomplishments, LARRY remained attentive to the needs of his constituents, never forgetting where he came from and who sent him here. His office has an excellent reputation for case work which flowed from his enthusiastic spirit of service. Voters recognized this about LARRY, expressing their confidence in his representation by ever-increasing electoral margins.

I am honored to follow him as chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and am committed to ensuring that the farm bill that he guided through Congress is implemented according to its original intent. He has been a valued colleague.

After nearly 2 decades of distinguished public service, it is an understatement to say that LARRY COMBEST can return home with his head held high. But those who know him doubt that will happen; for, in spite of all that he has accomplished, LARRY has maintained his humility, a character trait which is increasingly rare in this city.

I know he is anxious to return to west Texas, to his friends and family; and we wish him and his wife, Sharon, all of the best. His consistent voice on behalf of rural America will be terribly missed.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to yield to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Stenholm), the distinguished ranking member of the Committee on Agriculture who has served long in this body and served the entire time the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Combest) served.