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Senator Lankford Statement on The Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today issued the following statement after voting against the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which passed by a vote of 86-11: 

“I strongly support the important work of our farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma. Our families in Oklahoma, around the country, and the world have good, healthy food to eat and clothes to wear because of their hard work and relentless toil. The farm bill has a nice-sounding name—the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018—but the bill doesn’t make real improvements to our federal agriculture policy. To protect the long-term health and efficiency of agriculture policy, and the families who need nutritional assistance, real reforms are needed, which is why I offered several amendments to the bill. My hope is that a conference committee between the House and the Senate will improve this bill by enacting real reforms to its provisions on SNAP, conservation programs, and energy. 

“The greatest challenge facing our Oklahoma agriculture community is the uncertainty around our international trade agreements and rapid fluctuations in commodity prices. Programs in the farm bill cannot make up for the harm that can be inflicted by trade actions that jeopardize our global markets. We must get serious about concluding ongoing trade negotiations and pursue new deals in emerging markets as soon as possible for Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers.”

Although Senator Lankford offered four amendments, they did not receive a vote.

Senator Lankford Amendments:

  • Reform USDA Value-Added Producer Grants – Move value-added producer grants from mandatory to discretionary spending, thus making it subject to annual appropriations rather than an automatic funding allocation. The amendment also would have focused the grants on small farms and agriculture small businesses by limiting them to entities with net sales under $50,000. The was included in Lankford’s government waste report, “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball.”
  • Reform Market Access Program – Move the market access program from mandatory to discretionary spending, thus making it subject to annual appropriations rather than an automatic funding allocation. The was also included in Lankford’s government waste report, “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball.”
  • Prohibit Spending on Conventional Biofuels – Prohibit any funds authorized by this farm bill from going to the development or production of convention ethanol biofuels, which have been supported for years by many different grant programs already, and through consumption mandates. Conventional biofuels funding started years ago as a way to jumpstart its technology and innovation; at this stage, the industry does not need government funding.
  • Repeal USDA Catfish Inspection Program – Repeal and returns the program to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Over the course of the last several years, inspection of catfish has been moved to the USDA while general seafood inspection stays at the FDA, creating duplication and overlap of seafood inspection. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found this to be duplicative and a waste of nearly $3 million in taxpayer dollars. 

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