|10:52 AM EDT||
David R. Obey, D-WI 7th
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL) for yielding the time.
Mr. Speaker, in the end I will be voting for the bill and the rule, but before I do I would like to get some things off of my chest about what I think the real problems are.
I do not think that the committee was wrong not to include dairy in this bill because there were no provisions on dairy, and they would have been not germane to the bill to begin with. I think the committee made the proper decision.
I think a number of things happened in the conference that should not have happened. Example: we had a serious debate on the issue of sanctions. I think this country's sanctions policy is deeply flawed. I think it makes no sense to use farmers as pawns in foreign policy. I did not agree with the Senate language on sanctions because I thought it was open sesame and I thought it was carelessly applied; and it could have made available to a number of dictatorial regimes around the world items which
they could use to build their own foreign exchange, and we do not want to do that.
I think we could have, if we had had the opportunity in conference, worked out a recalibrated sanction program to meet the national interests of the country without making farmers be the infantrymen in every argument we have with a foreign power, but we did not get the chance because the conference was shut down.
I think that the distribution of money under the emergency bill should have been along the lines of the suggestions by the gentleman from Texas (Mr. STENHOLM), because that would have guaranteed that the aid would go to people who are actually farming; but we did not get a chance to deal with that issue because the conference was shut down before we were able to offer amendments.
I agree, there is not enough money in this bill for disasters, for the Carolina region and for other areas. I think the basic problem in this bill is not the Committee on Appropriations. All we can do is deal with funding issues. The basic problem is that we are dealing with an underlying law that makes no sense because it is based on ideology rather than real-world economics.
Somebody said once that economists are people who spend their time worrying about whether what works in real life could actually work in theory, and that certainly is the case when we are dealing with agricultural economics.
We have a law right now, the Freedom to Farm Act, which basically says we are going to let the market work, but there is no true market in agriculture for the most part. There is not a country on this globe that does not play games with trade to the detriment of somebody else's farmers.
Processors have a fundamental advantage in dealing with farmers in the exchange of most commodities. Markets need to recognize that there are weather problems, there are pest problems, there are disease problems, and we need to try to use government to even out what happens to farmers when they get hit with those problems. Otherwise, we are not going to have family farmers left to produce any commodities in this country.
What ought to happen is that the Freedom to Farm bill, which in my opinion has become the freedom-to-lose-your-shirt bill, that bill ought to be tossed out and we ought to start over and produce a bill that makes long-term sense for American farmers.
Until that is done, the Committee on Appropriations cannot fix up the problem.