WASHINGTON, D.C. — By a vote of 364-50, the House of Representatives today passed the Conference Report to S. 1150, the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998, making final congressional approval of the first major overhaul of agricultural research programs in over twenty years and the restoration of crop insurance for America's farmers.
"American farmers and ranchers are breathing a sigh of relief tonight. We still need the President's signature on this, but this vote shows just how vital crop insurance and agricultural research is for a safe and dependable U.S. food supply," Smith said.
"Strong agricultural research programs have enabled America's farmers and ranchers to produce the highest quality food and fiber in the world at competitive prices. This bill updates and modernizes our research programs so that American farmers will maintain their competitive edge in an increasingly global marketplace," Smith said.
"The winners here today are the hardworking men and women who provide this nation with a food and fiber supply that is second to none in the world, and the American consumers who expect a safe and abundant food supply," Smith said.
"This is an important advancement for agricultural production. We worked diligently to improve upon the current structure of Research, Education and Extension. This bill increases competition and maximizes research for leveraging private dollars with limited federal funds," said Congressman Larry Combest, (R-TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research.
"In addition to making a number of improvements to our nation's agricultural research system, this legislation provides necessary funding for crop insurance, nutrition programs, and rural development in a fiscally responsible way. This legislation would not have been possible without months of hard work by Members on both sides of the aisle. Despite significant differences in the original House and Senate versions, the final bill is a fair and balanced compromise among the competing priorities," said Congressman Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), the Committee's ranking minority member.
Over five years, S. 1150 allocates $600 million to create new agriculture research programs, $500 million to partially fund crop insurance costs, $100 million for the Fund for Rural America, and $800 million to partially fund food stamps for non-citizens.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District — which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon — in the U.S. House of Representatives. Combest represents Texas' 19th Congressional District which includes the Panhandle, South Plains, and Permian Basin. Stenholm represents Texas' Seventeenth Congressional District, a sprawling agricultural district in west central Texas.