10:41 AM EDT
Ray LaHood, R-IL 18th

Mr. LAHOOD. Mr. Speaker, if you want to save the family farm, I suggest that you vote for this rule and vote for this bill. This bill helps family farms.

I represent one of the largest agricultural districts in the country, 14 counties in central Illinois, hog producers, corn producers, soybean producers, people who have made their living for years and years and years on the good black soil of central Illinois.

What I have been doing is traveling around my district throughout the summer and the fall, and what I found is there are two economies in America. There is the booming economy, where you drive around your district and every fast-food restaurant says ``hiring for all positions.'' Americans are doing well; they are investing in the stock market. That is the one economy.

The other economy is the agriculture economy, which is in a recession; and if you are a hog producer, you are in a depression. Many of the hog producers in my districts have gone out of business, and many of the corn and soybean producers in my district are hurting very badly.

This bill helps them. Just because you feel you were shut out or you were not a part of the final negotiations, why should we sell short then those people who badly need this assistance? I say to all of you who represent agriculture, all of you who represent hard-hit farmers, this is the time to step up and vote for a bill that provides the needed assistance.

Now, you can say all you want about Freedom to Farm. You can criticize it. Many people have. I have not heard any criticism of Freedom to Farm for the first 3 years that it was in existence. Not one word have I heard.

This year we have. You know why? Because we got lousy markets. The Asia market is lousy, Russia is a mess, we never passed Fast Track. That is the reason behind Freedom to Farm.

One of the successes of Freedom to Farm is you have to have markets. We do not have the markets. Every time I have met with Secretary Glickman, Secretary Bill Daley, they ask, when are we going to pass Fast Track to open up the South American market? We need trade. We need markets in order for our farmers to survive.

So I say to the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, the gentleman [Page: H9215]

from Texas (Mr. COMBEST), thank you for agreeing to hold hearings next year on Freedom to Farm. We are going to have a debate on that. But because you do not like Freedom to Farm, do not vote against the rule, do not vote against the bill.

We have farmers all over America, either because of a drought, which we have not experienced in central Illinois, or because of lousy prices because we do not have the markets which are in a recession, and this bill helps them. So if you want to help hard-hit farmers, this is your opportunity today to do it. Vote for the rule, vote for the bill, and we will help them get out of this recessionary period.

This is an opportunity for Congress and the government to step up and help those who need the help. I say vote for the rule, vote for the bill, and we will help our hard-hit farmers.