WASHINGTON, D.C.-By a unanimous voice vote, the U.S. House of Representatives today voted to send the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reauthorization Act of 1997 (H.R. 2534) to conference committee, moving the first major overhaul of agricultural research programs one step closer to fruition.
In November of last year, the House approved H.R. 2534 by a vote of 291-125, but a rare parliamentary maneuver by opponents of the Senate research reauthorization bill prevented House approval of sending the bill to conference. The bill would reauthorize numerous agricultural research programs through 2002, including reform provisions to ensure peer and merit review of agricultural research and provisions to provide for input into the priority-setting process by those who benefit from agricultural research. Today, the House, by voice vote, sent the bill to conference with its Senate counterpart (S.1150).
"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. Our agricultural research reauthorization bill updates and modernizes our research programs so that American farmers will maintain their competitive edge in an increasingly global marketplace," said Smith.
"When it comes to feeding a growing world population, we have two choices: plow more land, or be more efficient with the land we have. Agricultural research provides the tools to produce in a more profitable and conscientious way," said Rep. Larry Combest (R-TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research.
"I commend Chairman Smith on his diligence in getting this resolution passed. The Agriculture Committee has worked hard to ensure American agriculture remains competitive around the globe. This agricultural research bill will help America's farmers and ranchers produce the best, most competitive food supply in the world," said Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.
"Needless to say, I am pleased with today's bipartisan action permitting the House and Senate ag research bills to go to conference. This bill provides vital support for U.S. agricultural research, which is one of the few remaining tools to assist our producers in remaining competitive in the world market," said Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-TX), the Committee's ranking Democrat.
"I'm pleased that the House unanimously approved the resolution to allow us to go to conference on this important legislation. Now we will be able to complete the work we began last year to ensure that the taxpayers receive the best return on their investment in agricultural research," said Rep. Cal Dooley (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research Subcommittee.
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' Nineteenth Congressional District, which includes the Panhandle, South Plains, and the Permian Basin. Armey represents Texas' 26th District. Stenholm represents Texas' Seventeenth Congressional District. Dooley represents California's 20th Congressional District.