At the 60th Annual Meeting of Plains Cotton Growers, Incorporated, House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, Representative from the 11th District found a receptive audience anxious to hear what he had to say, primarily about Farm Bill 2018, but also on the ongoing investigation in Washington.
Chairman Conaway, in his seventh term in Washington told the group he wanted to address “the elephant in the room” first of all. “I was sitting at a Nationals’ baseball game, eating baseball food when I got a call that I was needed at the Capital immediately.”
After meeting with several higher ups and much conversation, Conaway came away as the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Russian investigation.
“I am not stepping down as Chairman of the Ag Committee. I am sure that I will be able to successfully do both jobs. There are some great people on this committee that will be good help to me on this issue.”
He assured the group that his plan is to reset the whole investigation and make it a bipartisan one that will get the facts. “We are going to declassify as much as we can and we are not going to conduct this investigation in the media.”
In other Ag news, the chairman stated that the confirmation hearing for Sonny Perdue, former Governor of Georgia, is scheduled for April 24.
“With the recent proposed cuts to agriculture in the budget, I assure you we need Sonny in now. The sooner the better,” stated Conaway.
“We need him in there to champion our cause. We need someone to remind people that ‘we gave at the office.’” Conaway stated referring to the more than 17 billion dollars in cuts made to Ag in the 2014 Farm Bill.
“We are going to work on reforms to benefit the farmer and reforms to benefit the taxpayer,” said Conaway.
Conaway stated that his plan is to get the policy right to start with and then work on the money side of things. “If we don’t have the policy right to start with, the Farm Bill isn’t going to be much help to anyone.”
He addressed the issue of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). “I don’t feel like we need to measure the success of SNAP and programs like it by how much money is put into it. I feel like the real success of SNAP should be measured in how many people are able to get off the program and have jobs and support their families because of the program.”
Conaway addressed the issue of whether or not nutrition and ag should be separated in the Farm Bill. “I don’t think that is something we should do, but I think we should pursue the path of least resistance. But, we know there are people out there who will try to kill ag if it is separated from nutrition.”
There have already been many hearings held and sub-committees working preparing to address FB 2018. Conaway told the group that “listening sessions” would be held around the country. “We want to find out what is working and what is not and what we can do better.”
Conaway was met with a round of applause when he stated, “We will get cotton back in the Farm Bill period. It is likely to be in the form of cottonseed and not lint but we will get it back in.”
He further stated, “Love or hate the 2014 Farm Bill, it still delivers the safest, most affordable food and fiber in the world. Those who complain about the Farm Bill and the ag portion of it don’t seem to understand what a deal they are getting because of these programs.
“The top 20% of our country spend more on food than the bottom 20% makes. I am concerned about the bottom portion. I want to be able to continue to feed and clothe our people in the most affordable manner possible while still taking care of those who provide our food and fiber.”
In closing, he asked the group to think about what we are asking when we ask God to bless America. “What are we asking Him to bless? Look at where our morals are as a nation. I have Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and I want to be able to ask Him to bless the decisions we make as a nation. I want us to be able to tell people ‘I love you but I can’t abide by the choices you are making.’ We have to defend our values. The values that built this country.”
A standing ovation was given Chairman Conaway at the conclusion of his remarks.