Conaway Expresses Optimism on Farm Bill
By RON DAINES
Sheep Industry News Contributor
(March 1, 2013) Compromise and a bipartisan approach to crafting legislation can actually work. Evidence can be seen in the recent House Ag Committee efforts to mark up a Farm Bill, says U.S. Rep. Michael Conaway.
“It was bipartisan work and one of the best days I’ve ever spent in my four terms in Congress,” Conaway, a Republican from the 11th District in Texas, told the American Sheep Industry Association’s Board of Directors in San Antonio. “It was a great day. The system works.”
Despite the bipartisan work in the House, Conaway said challenges remain in crafting a Farm Bill, as the Senate and House differ in their approaches to nutrition and how much should be cut from the program. The House and Senate also differ on the ag safety net. He said the Senate version does not cover as much as the House version, and the House offers choices for producers.
Conaway expressed optimism that a Farm Bill will be crafted by May or June, and that the accomplishments of 2012 will carry into 2013. But he said bipartisan support will be needed in the House to get it done.
“There will never be 218 Republicans that will vote for a Farm Bill,” he says. “As we go forward in 2013, it is essential that production ag is at the table to tell us what you want and that you are united in your voice. Have the family fight, then get united so we can find the 218 votes on the House floor to get it passed.”
Conaway discussed another topic of interest to agriculture: immigration reform.
“It’s time. The president and the Senate are talking about it,” says Conaway, adding, “We need to tone down the rhetoric and set the parameters and principles for discussion.”
He says that progress is being made on border control and that a rational work program is needed, one for production agriculture and one for other industries – and one that doesn’t displace American workers who want to work.
“If you’re legal, you can work,” he says, “and if you’re illegal, you can’t work.”
And, says Conaway, the rules for citizenship need to be reviewed so that they’re in America’s best interest.