Gluesenkamp Perez Statement On Farm Bill Markup Vote

May 24, 2024
Press
Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez highlights local producers’ Farm Bill priorities.

Today, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) released the following statement regarding her vote to not advance the Farm Bill from the House Agriculture Committee:

“Across Southwest Washington, it’s getting more difficult for small, family farms to be passed down through generations – and worsening extreme weather events are only making farmers’ jobs harder. Working families are also experiencing high grocery costs that stand in the way of putting healthy food on the table. 

Unfortunately, the Farm Bill proposed today would slash programs to ease these crises for farmers and families – so I voted against advancing it out of the House Ag Committee.

Southwest Washington is home to small farms and timber operations, and we grow one of the highest amounts of aquaculture production across the country. I’ve traveled across our district to visit family farms and hold listening sessions – and I’ve been advocating for a bipartisan Farm Bill that represents our diverse interests and strengthens rural economies.

I submitted a comprehensive list of Farm Bill priorities that reflect what I heard from local growers, discussed this bill with colleagues from across the aisle, and introduced legislation like the PACA Act. Nevertheless, priorities of our local growers have been left out while vital programs have taken historic cuts.

Farmers are facing increasingly challenging growing conditions amid extreme heat and drought, and have asked me to support the USDA programs that help them improve climate resiliency and protect their bottom line. Demand for these resources is already dramatically outpacing what’s available – and this legislation would roll back support for climate-smart practices farmers rely on and are calling for.

More than 42,000 households across our district rely on SNAP to put food on the table – and today’s bill would result in the largest cut to the program in three decades. Rural communities like mine are more likely to enroll in the program than urban areas, and 23 percent of SNAP funding benefits rural communities. Additionally, nearly half of the households enrolled in SNAP include children. Policies that hurt family farmers hurt rural families.

Today’s legislation would put family farms at risk to climate-related challenges and take food off the table for families saddled with high costs. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and across the aisle on a bipartisan Farm Bill that reflects the priorities of Southwest Washington producers.”

The following are Rep. Gluesenkamp Perez’s full committee remarks, and they can be viewed here:

“My district is home to over a million acres of privately-held timberland, so I’d like to thank the Committee for their work in supporting paper mills and paper products with the reams of paper we have here in front of us.

My Congressional district is truly a perfect microcosm of Washington state agriculture. We are mostly small or very small diversified farms that grow blueberries and hazelnuts, raise poultry, produce eggs and dairy, and grow and sell the sixth-highest amount of aquaculture by Congressional district.

As I mentioned, we’re also home to over a million acres of private forestland and a complex, interdependent web of mills that process the public and private timber that builds our houses and underpins our rural economies. 

Last year, I hosted a lot of listening sessions with farmers. I visited many small and local farms across my district. I worked hard to listen and represent their values and priorities in effecting a bipartisan farm bill. Many of the priorities point to the need to empower farmers and foresters with the tools and resources they need to respond to a constantly-changing climate where extreme heat and drought are making their jobs harder than ever.

What are my cranberry growers supposed to do when it’s 65 degrees one day and 100 degrees the next?

This week, a third-generation dairy farmer from my district wrote an op-ed about the critical need for federal support of climate-oriented programs at the USDA.

Maynard writes, “Climate-smart programs put farmers at an advantage of being able to help themselves, their farms and the environment all in one package.”

But this Farm Bill makes accessing these types of practices more challenging. I’ve sent letters outlining the priorities of my farmers and producers, introduced bipartisan marker bills, and met with Chairman Thompson many times to discuss this bill as it was being put together.

And despite all of this, many of my constituents’ priorities have been left out, while vital programs have taken historic cuts. Generational farms and producers in my district need to be at the table – not on the menu. 

I cannot in good conscience support pitting hungry seniors against rural schools and dairymen like Maynard and his son Jack. I can’t ask them to fight for scraps when their interests should have been fundamental to the base text.

It’s not acceptable to me. 

And if a $30 billion cut to SNAP wasn’t enough, this bill takes an additional swipe to undermine the public servants who work tirelessly to ensure their community is connected to the benefits they deserve.

I look forward to working with our colleagues in the Senate on a bipartisan bill that reflects the best of what we can achieve. Let’s keep our community at the core of our work today. I hope that we do not devolve into personal attacks.

I urge us all to remember 1 Corinthians 13: If I speak with tongues of angels and men, if I understand all mysteries, if I understand all knowledge, if I have faith to move mountains, but I don’t have love, I am nothing. And I hope that that love is what guides us, that brings us to a better bipartisan Farm Bill.”

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