(The candidate is answering the question: Congress has not agreed on a farm bill. What should a new farm bill look like and what must be done to ensure its passage?)
Last week, I met with a number of farmers at our "Farmers for Bobby" coalition launch at Kenny Bush Farms. Farmers are some of the hardest working people out there, and I've worked tirelessly to represent them well in my first term.
I was honored to receive the "Friend of Agriculture" award from the Illinois Farm Bureau for that work, and I will continue to make agriculture a priority going forward.
The 17th District of Illinois truly is an agricultural powerhouse, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with farmers and be their voice in Washington.
This Congress has produced bipartisan victories for the farming community -- repealing the onerous 1099 tax reporting requirement that would have imposed a paperwork nightmare on farmers, beating back bureaucratic overreach, passing a multi-year transportation bill that includes important Hours of Service exemptions for farm input suppliers, and enacting Free Trade Agreements to level the playing field and promote new export opportunities for corn, soybean, beef and pork producers.
Agriculture has been a bright spot in this struggling economy and farm exports support more than one million jobs for men and women in this country. When it comes to crafting a farm bill, we owe it to producers to be specific and get the policy right.
I fought to be named to the House Agriculture Committee so I could help shape agricultural policy for the next five years. We brought one of the few House Agriculture Committee field hearings to Galesburg so that members from both sides of the aisle could listen directly to our area's farmers.
Agriculture has been a bright spot in this struggling economy so when it comes to crafting a farm bill, we owe it to producers to be very specific.
In Galesburg and at the remaining field hearings throughout the country, farmers reiterated that they value certainty.
They just want to know what cards are on the table so they can make decisions and get to what they do best -- cultivating a crop to help feed and fuel America.
Farmers from around Illinois' 17th District have told me how vital a risk management tool crop insurance is for their operations, and I listened. While crop insurance was cut by $12 billion back in 2008 and 2009, I concluded that we must not harm this vital program.
The bipartisan farm bill proposal I supported in the Ag Committee contains a revenue program that producers can utilize as part of their business model. Our proposal reflects my support for critical conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Reserve Program that focuses on the most environmentally sensitive land. We also should prioritize beginning farmers, so they will have an easier time getting their operations off the ground.
Finally, we also need to make common-sense reforms and find savings by eliminating direct payments and closing loopholes and abuse within the food stamp program that accounts for 80 percent of farm bill spending.
We need a farm bill now. I have led efforts to get this legislation considered in the House, including a bipartisan letter signed by 79 members of Congress asking for the farm bill to be put up for a vote. This is well short of the 218 votes needed to pass the farm bill, but I remain optimistic and committed to educating other members on the farm bill's importance.
I voted against adjourning the House because Congress should be in Washington finishing up a five-year farm bill. I am working across the aisle to continue to promote these efforts, and am confident we will get the job done for farmers.
Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, represents Congress in the 17th District.
Today is Thursday, Dec. 12, the 346th day of 2013. There are 19 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: Two boys who haul coal from Coal Valley to Davenport were arrested yesterday for running their teams through the city street at a furious rate. 1888 -- 125 years ago: E.H. Barker dislocated his left wrist and suffered a compound fracture of the right wrist when he fell from the roof of his icehouse. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Lou Harris was elected county superintendent of schools to fill the unexpired term of the late S.J. Ferguson. 1938 -- 75 years ago: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a state must give equality in educational privileges to white and Negro law students. 1963 -- 50 years ago: About 300 employees of the Augustana Book Concern, staff members of the Board of Publication of the Lutheran Church in America, as well as friends of the community and out-of-town guests honored Dr. Birger Swenson at the annual Christmas dinner of the Augustana Book Concern last night in Westerlin Hall on the Augustana College campus. 1988 -- 25 years ago: The Christmas shopping season began early this year and continues to bring out shoppers in record numbers, according to Quad-Cities retailers interviewed today.