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Speeches and Floor Statements

Conference Report to Accompany 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013

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January 29, 2014 | comments

 Statement for the Record - Chairman of the Committee on the Budget Paul Ryan of Wisconsin

I want to thank Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson for their work on this issue. Although I have deep concerns about this bill, I understand that in divided government, no party will get everything it wants.

That said, this bill lays the foundation for a fundamental reform of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—namely, it will allow states to require work in exchange for benefits. Before the 1996 welfare-reform bill, several states experimented with work requirements, and the evidence gathered from those experiments led to the most expansive reform of the welfare state ever.

This bill also partially closes a loophole in the SNAP program known as “heat and eat”—a reform included in previous House Budgets.

Finally, this bill eliminates Direct Payments, excludes supply-management provisions in the dairy program, and reduces the deficit by $16.6 billion over the next ten years. This bill would save more money than doing nothing.

I wish this bill included more reforms to our agricultural programs. It did not include crop-insurance reforms supported by both the House and the Senate. We should have a safety net for our farmers. We should help the little guy—the family farm that’s in need. We shouldn’t bankroll the big guys. So we should tighten the eligibility standards for crop subsidies. I’m disappointed we didn’t use this opportunity to make fundamental changes to business as usual.

But on the whole, I think this bill will do some good. It will save more money than if we did nothing. It will provide some much-needed certainty to family farmers. It is an improvement over the status quo, and so I support it.

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