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Womack Votes for Farm Bill, Despite Shortcomings

After two years of struggle, the House approved a new five year farm bill Wednesday by a bipartisan vote of 251-166.
I recognize that - in a divided government - each side must work to find common ground
After two years of struggle, the House approved a new five year farm bill Wednesday by a bipartisan vote of  251-166. The Senate is expected to pass it to President Barack Obama for his signature no later than next week.

Congressman Steve Womack (R-AR3) voted in favor of the bill, but he wasn't necessarily happy about it.

"For me, it would be easy to vote against this conference report," said a frustrated Womack from the House floor Wednesday before the vote. "But unlike my Senate counterparts, I recognize that - in a divided government - each side must work to find common ground.

The congressman commended his colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee, including fellow Arkansas Congressman Rick Crawford (R-AR1) who sits on the committee, for their work to reform farm and food programs, which he says ultimately "moves the ball forward". But his issues with the report remain.

"Because of the Senate's my-way-or-the-highway attitude, we are considering a conference report that does nothing to address an out-of-control agency, GIPSA, from imposing on American companies regulations that go well-beyond congressional intent," said Womack. "Because of the Senate's all-or-nothing approach, we are considering a conference report that will subject American industries and companies to retaliatory tariffs."

[GIPSA, or the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, is the agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that facilitates the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseed, and related agricultural products.]

Despite that frustration, the two-term representative from Rogers remains upbeat.
 
"I am hopeful, however, Mr. Speaker, that the House Appropriations Committee will do everything in its power to fix some of these mistakes," said Womack. "I - as a member of the Committee - will fight to rein in GIPSA, and I will work to fix the Country-of-Origin Labeling requirements."

The bill is expected to save an estimated $24 billion over the next ten years. Part of that savings would come from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, which would be cut by roughly $8 billion during that same ten year period. That comes out to about $800 million a year.

The measure continues to heavily subsidize major crops like corn, wheat and rice, while overhauling current dairy policy.

Womack, Crawford and Congressman Tim Griffin (R-AR2) voted for the bill. Congressman Tom Cotton (R-AR4) voted against the measure.
  
The transcript of Congressman Womack's speech is posted below. To watch the video, click HERE.

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Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
 
I, too, would like to offer my congratulations to the Chairman, to his ranking member, and to my colleague from Arkansas, one of the committee members, Mr. Crawford, for their diligent work in coming up with this conference report for this was not easy to say the least.
 
That said, Mr. Speaker, because of the Senate's my-way-or-the-highway attitude, we are considering a conference report that does nothing to address an out-of-control agency, GIPSA, from imposing on American companies regulations that go well-beyond congressional intent.  Because of the Senate's all-or-nothing approach, we are considering a conference report that will subject American industries and companies to retaliatory tariffs.
 
For me, it would be easy to vote against this conference report.  But unlike my Senate counterparts, I recognize that - in divided government - each side has to find common ground.  Ultimately, this report - like many of the other bipartisan agreements that have been signed into law - moves the ball forward by making much-needed reforms to federal programs and reducing spending.
 
That's why, in the end, I will support it.
 
I am hopeful, however, Mr. Speaker, that the House Appropriations Committee will do everything in its power to fix some of these mistakes.  I - as a member of the Committee - will fight to rein in GIPSA, and I will work to fix the Country-of-Origin Labeling requirements.
 
With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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