O'Halleran Votes Against Cuts to Rural Economic Development, Infrastructure Projects
WASHINGTON - Today, the House Committee on Agriculture marked up the recently released Farm Bill, which was drafted by the leadership of the Committee with no input from members. Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), during his remarks, expressed his disappointment in the unprecedented partisanship of the Farm Bill and the cuts it makes to rural communities struggling to rebuild their economy following the recession:
“I am disappointed that this committee has been pushed away from its bipartisan legacy, but I am most disappointed that this bill does not come close to doing enough for rural communities or promoting rural economic development. This Farm Bill should have served as a way to jumpstart rural economic development and create jobs, but instead, this bill cuts half a billion dollars from rural economic development programs.
“Cutting $795 million from conservation programs over the next ten years is shortsighted, and it will limit the ability of farmers and ranchers to meet their needs and address resource concerns. Additionally, cuts to the forestry title will mark a major step backward in forest restoration and wildfire prevention.
“Most troubling, the policies in this bill will only worsen food insecurity and hunger for veterans, rural Americans, and children. It is a sad day in America when Congress is considering proposals that hurt children. We have missed an opportunity to serve the needs of our rural constituents.”
The 2018 Farm Bill, which passed committee on party lines, cuts nearly $800 million from conservation programs, $500 million from rural development programs over the next ten years, and includes no mandatory funding for infrastructure projects, such as broadband deployment and water and wastewater systems. Additionally, the bill changes the definition of “rural” and would force small rural communities to compete with small cities for infrastructure loans.
Watch Rep. O'Halleran's full remarks from the Committee hearing here.