While the $867 Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, H.R.2, known as the Farm Bill, passed the House and Senate last week with strong bi-partisan support, three Republican Congressmen from Georgia opposed it — U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter (R-1st District), Jody Hice (R-10th District) and Barry Loudermilk, (R-11th District).
The vote for the bill ended an eight-month fight over the legislation. House Republicans had sought to impose stricter work requirements on millions of food stamp recipients – a plan rejected by House Democrats.
The day following the vote, two of the three Georgia Congressman explained their opposition to the farm bill.
Carter said he voted against the Farm Bill because it did not include the adequate crop assistance Georgia’s blueberry farmers need to recover from the devastating winter in 2017, despite months of negotiations by the Georgia Congressman from Pooler in south Georgia.
“I certainly wanted to vote in support of the Farm Bill,” said Carter. “As Georgia’s top industry, the hard work of our farmers, ranchers and producers contributes to the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world. Our agricultural community needs and deserves the long-term certainty of a sound Farm Bill. Unfortunately, the Farm Bill brought to the House floor today was not one I could support. It simply does not support Georgia growers.
“Georgia has risen to become one of the top blueberry producing states in the nation,” Carter added. “Now, the commodity is a $1 billion industry in our state and is the backbone of some of our rural communities. However, in 2017, blueberries were hit with a devastating freeze combined with warm winter weather which dramatically harmed the crops. This is not only debilitating for our growers, but also the local economies that depend on them.”
Carter vowed to continue the fight.
“Now, the fight is not over. I will continue working to secure assistance for one of our largest commodities in the First District, while also continuing to support our entire agricultural community,” Carter said.
Congressman Loudermilk also explained his no vote: “I fully support the farmers and the agricultural industry in Georgia, and I worked desperately in the House for needed reforms, but the Senate struck most of those reforms out,” said Loudermilk of Cassville. “It’s time we send our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, and in the Senate, a firm message that our government programs need substantial revisions.”
Both U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) voted in favor of the Farm Bill, saying they felt it would strengthen Georgia’s agricultural economy.
Agriculture remains the leading industry in the state, contributing an annual $73 billion to Georgia’s economy. Georgia is also home to a larger variety of agricultural industries than almost any other state. Georgia is the second largest cotton-growing state in the United States, and cotton, which is the largest crop by acreage in Georgia, contributes an estimated economic value of more than $1.6 billion to Georgia’s economy.