Statement from Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell in Opposition to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill
Washington, D.C. –Today, Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (AL-7) released the following statement after voting against the Agriculture Appropriations Bill:
“Our nation faces a serious budget deficit, but we also face a jobs deficit and a fragile economic recovery. We cannot afford to address one at the expense of the other. While I understand that times are hard and we must make difficult budgetary decisions, I am concerned that the types of cuts in the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that passed today are ill-advised and disproportionate. The bill I voted against today cuts funding for Agriculture programs by $2.9 billion below the current level and $5 billion below the President’s request. It also drastically reduces funding for important programs that serve women, children, seniors and farmers.
I opposed the Agriculture Appropriations Bill today because it makes significant cuts to programs that are vitally important to the constituents of the 7th Congressional District. This includes devastating cuts to the WIC program and it cuts the Commodity Supplemental Food Program by nearly 21%. Both programs are critically important, as they serve predominantly low-income seniors and children across the country.
This legislation also cuts $354 million in funding from agriculture research programs, including the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). ARS promotes important research that develops solutions for national agricultural issues and provides economic opportunities for rural citizens and communities. Additionally, the National Institute for Food and Agriculture’s support of research, education, and extension programs is invaluable to not only land grant universities including Auburn, Tuskegee and Alabama A & M universities but also to the entire Agriculture sector.
This bill drastically reduces federal support for farmers that shields them against unforeseen economic and natural disasters and strips essential funding from vital food and nutritional programs for families. I cannot in good conscience support a bill that makes such reckless cuts especially during these challenging economic times.
The Agriculture sector has an enormous impact on the U.S and world economy. Agribusiness industries employ more than 21 million American workers, accounting for 15 percent of the total U.S. workforce. In fact, Agriculture is one of Alabama's largest industries, contributing nearly $5 billion to the state's economy each year. As our global population increases, food security and adequate food production will be a must for national security, economic development and the overall survival of our populations.
The bill that passed the House today could cripple our thriving agricultural sector and leave our families and children without critically important nutrition assistance. It will not assist in our efforts to strengthen our economy, reduce our deficit or create jobs. The American people deserve an Agriculture Appropriations bill that is fiscally responsible and moves our country forward. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to craft a bill that meets these goals.”
Contact: Allison Abney; (202) 225-2665; Allison.email@example.com