The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln's Responses to Delta Caucus Questions on Key Issues

Posted on April 26, 2010 at 02:35 PM

U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln’s responses to questionnaire on key Delta issues

The Delta Grassroots Caucus will be sending questionnaires to major Congressional candidates asking them to state what they would do to promote a brighter economic future for the Delta in Congress. Today we are sending the responses of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), chair of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. We plan to distribute the other answers as soon as we receive them from Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) and others.

Those three candidates and others addressed many of these issues at our recent conference at the Clinton Presidential Center. We appreciate Sen. Lincoln’s thorough answers and look forward to receiving answers from the others.

The issues deal with job creation/economic recovery; the recent job creation legislation; health care; federal nutrition programs; rural development, including rural small business, rural housing, rural utilities; education; transportation and other infrastructure; renewable energy and green jobs; expanded broadband access; conservation; ecotourism and other forms of tourism related to the Delta’s heritage; support for the Delta Regional Authority, including full funding for the agency; support for the New Markets Tax Credit, Empowerment Zones, Enterprise Communities, Renewal Communities and similar initiatives for creating jobs by promoting entrepreneurialism and creating new small businesses; reforms of FEMA; how to stop the ill-advised efforts to impose massive new flood insurance costs on the Delta; agriculture, particularly for limited resource and middle class family farmers.

Feel free to help us get answers from other candidates in this and other Congressional races. We will also want to scrutinize the gubernatorial candidates. Thanks—Lee Powell, MDGC (202) 360-6347

1. What would you do as U.S. Senator to promote job creation/economic recovery in the depressed Delta and the country as a whole? Did you support the recent jobs creation legislation passed and did you support the stimulus package in 2009, and why?

As a daughter of an Arkansas rice farmer who grew up in the heart of the Delta, I have made a commitment to making significant investments in the people and communities of our area.

In 2000, I sponsored legislation which led to the creation of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), whose mission it is to spur economic development in the Delta communities. I have fought for funding for the Authority every year. As the first Arkansan to chair the Senate Committee on Agriculture, I am in a unique position to provide targeted aid and incentives to help bring development to the Delta region. The agriculture industry provides more than 270,000 jobs in Arkansas, and we all know that many of these jobs are created in the Delta.

I have fought for rural development funding and as an author of the 2008 Farm Bill, I helped pass $150 million to promote economic growth and create jobs in rural communities. This investment has helped improve access to broadband in the rural communities of Arkansas as well as provide loans to rural hospitals.

I supported the Economic Recovery Act, which has spurred job-creating infrastructure improvement projects and made a real difference in the lives of Arkansans struggling in today’s economy. According to estimates, the legislation has created or saved over 2,000 jobs in Arkansas. The legislation included initiatives to make investments in rural infrastructure of particular importance to the Delta, such as $2.1 million for Arkansas to map broadband access and to help expand broadband coverage in the state. The legislation also included critical support for the catfish industry, which is a significant employer throughout the Delta.

Recently, I helped pass the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act in the U.S. Senate, a jobs-related measure that will be an important part of getting our economy back on track. The legislation includes a critical provision that I championed, which is a new tax incentive for businesses to hire unemployed workers, as well a provision that will spur small business growth by allowing them to write off more of their expenses.

In addition, my S Corporation Modernization Act of 2009 would update and simplify our S corporation tax rules so that businesses will have increased access to capital, which encourages family-owned businesses to stay in the family, eliminates tax traps that penalize unwary but well-meaning business owners, and encourages charitable giving.

  1. What further steps need to be taken in addition to the recent job creation legislation to get the regional and national economy out of the recession? Government doesn’t create jobs. Small businesses create jobs. However, government can establish an environment where businesses and individuals can prosper, through tax incentives and less strict regulations. I want Arkansas small businesses, who make up 97% of the workforce here, to create jobs for working Arkansans.

I will continue to push for tax breaks that allow working families and small businesses to get ahead and emerge from the economic crisis stronger and more competitive. As part of my tax cuts package, I introduced the USA Jobs Act of 2009, which would offer a new Research and Development bonus incentive to companies that both research and manufacture their products in the United States.

I will push for tax relief for working families, through tuition tax credits, and credits to ease the cost of child care and adult dependent care. I will also continue to hold Wall Street accountable to prevent the same speculative investments that occurred and helped lead to the recent economic recession. I will push for the changes we need to prevent a similar crisis from happening again.

I think we need to get back to fiscal responsibility in Washington and take a cue from Arkansas families who are tightening their belts and making changes in the way they spend their hard-earned dollars. Earlier this year, I supported the creation of a bipartisan deficit reduction commission to help put us on the road to recovery. I hope the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will help us accomplish two significant goals: getting our fiscal house back in order and working together to produce results the people of Arkansas want and deserve.

I believe we also need to take additional steps to curb spending immediately. This year, I helped pass into law the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act which requires Congress to devise ways to pay for new spending. Pay-go rules are a sensible way to ensure that we are not just charging up the national credit card and spending money we do not have. The law will enforce the commonsense concept that Arkansas working families have to live by – that in order to spend a dollar, you have to have that dollar in your wallet.

3. While all areas of the country suffer from the current health care system, the Delta in particular has exceedingly high numbers of uninsured people in underserved rural areas and extremely high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other health problems. Did you support the health care reform bill?

If not, how would you respond to criticisms that opposing the bill was obstructionism against efforts to alleviate this situation, and what alternative would you support to this legislation?

I was proud to be on hand at the White House as the President signed this historic reform into law. It marked the end of a two-year debate and for me personally, it was the high point of a career spent trying to reform health care. While not perfect, this law will greatly expand accessibility and choices for all Arkansans, is fully paid-for and will not raise income taxes on hardworking Arkansans. This law will slow the growth in health care costs and make health care more affordable. I ensured that health care reform did not include government controlled health care, called the public option, because it would have relied on taxpayers to bear all the risk. I fought to ensure that savings in Medicare would not cut guaranteed benefits for Medicare patients. And, I ensured that community hospitals in Arkansas would not experience any reduction in their Medicare reimbursement rate, which will save jobs and preserve access for thousands of Arkansas rural patients.

The Reconciliation package devised by the House includes matters unrelated to health care and employs a legislative process that wasn’t subject to the same transparency and thorough debate that I fought for in the Senate. I have also fought specifically to improve the health care system in the Delta Region. Earlier this year, through the Recovery Act, I secured $364,730 for Mid-Delta Health Systems to purchase emergency power equipment, dental equipment, a digital X-ray machine and other vital equipment. Last year, I secured a $50,000 grant for Mid-Delta Health to purchase new X-ray equipment that will link to Mid-Delta’s current electronic health record system. Community Health Centers play a critical role in delivering affordable health care to individuals and families throughout Arkansas, and especially in the Delta, where quality health care often becomes a problem of accessibility.

In previous years, I have secured grants for places such as Health Resources of Arkansas in Batesville so that they can work to improve the health status of residents in 20 Arkansas Delta counties by strengthening and expanding local rural health networks in the region.

In 2009, I helped introduce legislation to make large investments in our rural communities. Many of the proposals concentrated on improving rural health, providing $300 million to the National Health Service Corps, designed to recruit physicians to rural areas, and making permanent the Medicare payment increases for rural ambulance services, which help EMS agencies to remain open and invest in infrastructure.

I have also led the fight against the obesity epidemic in Arkansas. Last year alone, I secured nearly $4 million for the Delta Obesity Prevention Research Unit, to be used to initiate community involved planning, implement interventions, and conduct research to assess the effects on health and nutrition status in counties throughout the Delta Region. My Child Nutrition Bill, which was just recently approved unanimously by the Senate Agriculture Committee, takes a critical step to address the epidemic of childhood obesity with a provision to create national school nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campuses throughout the school day. The provision requires the Secretary of Agriculture, through a transparent regulatory process, to establish national nutrition standards consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for all foods sold on school campuses throughout the school day. Current regulations limiting the sale of foods sold in schools are very narrow and have not been updated in almost 30 years.

In 2009, I was one of six Members of Congress to be honored by the Campaign to End Obesity for my commitment to this fight.

4. Would you support the SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) program, school lunch and other school meal programs, the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition program (WIC), aid to food banks, and other federal nutrition programs, including higher levels of funding for these programs?

I have fought for adequate funding for nutrition programs throughout my career. Just recently, I passed unanimously through the Senate Agriculture Committee, the most ambitious Child Nutrition Plan with the largest investment of new funding in the program’s history with $4.5 billion in new funding. For far too many children, the only stable source of food that they can count on is what they get at school. This plan invests in new initiatives to enroll more children in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, provides more options for high poverty schools to offer universal free meal service to children, and for the first time in nearly 40 years, increases the reimbursement rate for the National School Lunch Program.

The legislation also takes steps to address the epidemic of child obesity with a provision to create national school nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campuses throughout the school day. Current regulations limiting the sale of food sold in schools are very narrow and have not been updated in almost 30 years.

I helped lead efforts to pass the bipartisan 2008 Farm Bill, which provided the highest amount of funding ever for nutrition priorities, including $1 million for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for low-income school children. My efforts provided free school meals for an additional 80,000 Arkansas students.

In 2004, I cofounded the Senate Hunger Caucus as a bipartisan forum for Senators to join together to work on solutions to end hunger in America and around the world. In addition to securing nutrition funding, I have also called for substantial food stamp increases and additional funding for food banks in response to the current economic downturn. I supported the Recovery Act, which provided $233 million through the SNAP hunger initiative that will help feed approximately 389,000 Arkansans in need.

5. To reduce air pollution, decrease dependence on foreign oil in the Middle East and other foreign regions, reduce oil prices over the long term, and create jobs, would you support a major expansion of renewable energy in America, and what major steps would you advocate to do so?

I support and have worked for commonsense energy reform that provides a smooth transition from an old energy to a new energy economy. Arkansas, with our reliance on coal, oil and natural gas along with vast natural resources that are potential sources for renewable fuels, offers a perfect example of why a transitional energy economy is critical. Most Arkansans agree there is tremendous potential for job growth with the development of clean energy technologies, and I am eager to help our state lead the way. I am working toward a balanced, 21st century energy plan that will stimulate, not stifle, the economy. We can make immediate gains toward reducing carbon emissions, achieving energy independence and incentivizing renewable energy, all while improving the environment and creating much-needed jobs here at home.

In 2008, I was one of 10 bipartisan Senators who developed legislation on a comprehensive and job-creating energy policy. Our proposal included a historic investment in research and development in an effort to transition new vehicles to non-petroleum based fuels by 2020. We would expand responsible measures to increase offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf and remain committed to expanding renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal.

The plan also included consumer credits to purchase advanced fuel vehicles and increases nuclear power generation. Most importantly, our proposal would be fully paid for with no net tax or spending increase. I am hopeful that we can take up similar legislation after dealing with the pressing issues of jobs and the economy. Last year, I was part of the effort in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to pass a bipartisan comprehensive energy bill, which we did in June. The bill includes a Renewable Electricity Standard, which would increase our use of clean and renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and biomass.

The bill would also update our current transmission system to make energy use and production more efficient and environmentally friendly. In addition, this legislation promotes investment in clean energy programs, technology and infrastructure projects that will help stimulate our economy and spur the creation of green jobs.

In order to compete in the twenty-first century, our country must transition from an old energy economy to a new energy economy that promotes alternative and renewable sources of energy. That is why I believe we need to further increase the use of alternative fuels like biodiesel, which will help create clean energy jobs in Arkansas.

I believe the Senate Energy bill will promote greater energy efficiency and grow the use of cleaner, renewable energy sources that will benefit our environment, create jobs, and cut our dependence on foreign oil. Although the debate on climate change continues on Capitol Hill, I believe we should move forward as soon as possible with passage of the Senate Energy Committee legislation, which will improve our environment while also creating jobs and boosting our ailing economy.

6. Would you support completion of the Delta Development Highway System, including completion of the Interstate 69 Corridor, and how would you go about working for the funding for these major transportation improvements in the Delta region?

I supported the Recovery Act, which has spurred job-creating infrastructure improvement projects and made a real difference in the lives of Arkansans struggling in today’s economy. The package has funded critical transportation projects that have created construction jobs and laid the foundation for continued economic growth.

I support the Delta Development Highway System plan, which was developed by the Delta Regional Authority after extensive planning and consultation with my office and other key Congressional and executive branch offices, state, and local transportation experts and organizations. This comprehensive plan is a comprehensive, well thought-out and researched program for transportation improvements throughout eastern Arkansas.

Our highway infrastructure is critical to efforts to create jobs and improve our economy. That is why I have worked with community leaders in Eastern Arkansas throughout my career to improve our highways. I have fought for critical funding for projects like the Great River Bridge and will continue to work on behalf of Eastern Arkansas to secure this vital funding.

Since 2005, I have secured more than $80 million for the Great River Bridge Project. These funds are used to continue engineering, design, and right-of-way acquisition for the area.

In 2002, I called on the Bush administration to release $7.5 million approved in 2001 for the Great River Bridge. I argued that the war on terrorism, while vital, should not come at the expense of projects such as the Great River Bridge, which will help lift one of our poorest areas.

In 2008, I secured $9 million in emergency highway funding, including money for Eastern Arkansas highways, to repair damages resulting from severe weather in Arkansas. The funds went toward emergency repairs needed to restore essential traffic routes, minimize the extent of damage, protect remaining facilities and make permanent repairs necessary to restore the highways to pre-disaster conditions.

I have worked to secure funding for the I-69 corridor in the transportation spending bills in order to make these needed improvements in the Delta region. In the most recent Transportation Appropriations bill, I secured nearly $2 million for Interstate 69 and the Great River Bridge. These funds will be used to continue engineering, design, and right-of-way acquisition for the area.

7. It is undeniable that expanded broadband access is crucial in gaining access for the Delta’s underserved areas to the information highway and the global economy. What legislation and policies would you support to expand broadband access in the Delta?

Providing accessible, affordable broadband to rural communities is one of my top priorities. Broadband internet service is quickly becoming a requirement for many businesses when they consider where to locate, and rural Arkansas will not be able to compete with the rest of the country without it. Greater broadband access can offer better medical advice, expand educational opportunities, and help rural businesses grow. I’m pleased to see our state receive these funds, and I remain committed to fighting for economic growth and job creation in our rural communities

I supported the Recovery Act, which included initiatives to help create jobs and make investments in rural infrastructure of particular importance to the Delta, such as $2.1 million for Arkansas to map broadband access and to help expand broadband coverage in the state. The legislation also included critical support for the catfish industry, which is a significant employer throughout the Delta.

I have fought for rural development funding and as an author of the 2008 Farm Bill, I helped pass $150 million to promote economic growth and create jobs in rural communities. This investment has helped improve access to broadband in the rural communities of Arkansas as well as provide loans to rural hospitals.

8. The Delta Regional Authority has done many meritorious initiatives in the Delta, but has been severely underfunded and is still suffering from major budget cuts during the Bush administration, when the original budget envisaged at $30 million was cut to $5 million, and only through laborious efforts have we increased that figure to a still much too small $13 million. This is inequitable, because over the years the Appalachian Regional Commission has enjoyed budgets of approximately $75 million annually in energy and water appropriations, plus over $400 million annually for the Appalachian highway system. The tiny Denali Commission in Alaska has also historically received far more than the DRA, which serves a region of over nine million people. Would you support a policy of equity in funding with the Appalachian Regional Commission and other regional commissions based on population, needs, poverty levels, and the merits, and how would you propose winning approval for this in Congress and in enlisting support for the national executive branch in this effort?

In 2000, I sponsored legislation which led to the creation of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), whose mission it is to spur economic development in the Delta communities. I have secured funding for this important organization in every appropriations bill since its creation. I also consistently fought against the Bush administration’s proposed disastrous cuts to the program. I believe that we’ve got to continue to push for adequate funding. It’s so important to be consistently not only asking for the kind of resources that the Delta needs, but reminding our colleagues of the incredible need for economic development, the poverty that exists, the need for education and training.

I am fighting for full funding of the Delta Regional Authority of $30 million, so that the DRA can continue to provide vital rural development funding to the Delta region.

In 2008, I announced $1 million in funding for the Delta Regional Authority for 6 Arkansas projects, including construction of access roads and investing in our infrastructure. This federal investment benefited the local Delta communities, providing critical funding for public infrastructure and workforce development projects.

In 2007, I announced over $1 million in grants authorized through the Delta Regional Authority, including job training funds, workforce and business development initiatives, investments in the Northwest Arkansas Public Water Authority, and funds to make much needed sewer improvements and repair damage caused by inclement weather.

9. The Delta’s education system has lagged far behind the rest of America. Would you support full funding for the No Child Left Behind program as well as major changes and revisions in this program that has clearly not fulfilled its promises thus far?

Education is a national investment in our most precious resource: our children. The knowledge and training that we provide them today are the tools that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

I fought hard against President Bush’s proposed disastrous cuts to education funding. In 2008 alone, he proposed eliminating 48 federal education programs, including $5 million in tuition funding for Arkansas and depriving over 41,000 Arkansas children of the Reading is Fundamental Program, providing free books and literary resources. President Bush also repeatedly failed to propose adequate funding for No Child Left Behind. This has been detrimental to our public education system and we must pledge to provide adequate funding for these programs.
In addition, I believe we need to change the way we measure our students.

In 2007, I introduced bipartisan legislation, the “Enhancing Flexibility for Effective Schools Act,” to reform and strengthen our nation’s education policy by giving schools the ability to utilize additional types of assessments to measure student progress. It also ensures that supplemental education services, such as tutoring, would be more readily available to students.

10. USDA Rural Development programs are highly valuable for regions like the Delta, but many of these programs have been underfunded in recent years. Would you support full funding for rural housing, rural small business, rural utilities, renewable energy, and other Rural Development programs?

Since being elected to the U.S. Senate, I have secured over $400 million in rural development for the state of Arkansas. As an author of the 2008 Farm Bill, I helped pass $150 million to promote economic growth and create jobs in rural communities. This investment has helped improve access to broadband in the rural communities of Arkansas as well as provide loans to rural hospitals. Now, I am working to follow through on the Farm Bill’s investments, working to ensure that Arkansas farms and ranches can continue producing safe and affordable food products while remaining competitive in the global marketplace.

As a co-author of the Rural Revitalization Act, introduced last year, I am working to expand access to affordable and quality health care in rural areas by supporting rural hospitals and community health centers and addressing workforce issues in the health care sector. I believe that a skilled workforce will attract new jobs in rural America so she is finding ways to strengthen vocational schools and community colleges. By modernizing rural infrastructure, expanding access to broadband and creating new business development strategies her legislation will lay the groundwork for long term economic recovery in rural areas.

11. Would you support conservation efforts in the Delta and promote “ecotourism” and other efforts to highlight the historical, cultural and natural heritage of the Delta?

I have fought for conservation efforts in Arkansas. Through my efforts, the 2008 Farm Bill included a $4 billion increase for conservation programs, including a $1.3 billion investment in the Wetland Reserve Program.

In 2009, I had the honor of accepting the Dale Bumpers “Forever Arkansas” award from the Nature Conservancy of Arkansas for my contributions to the conservation of natural resources here in Arkansas. I have worked to obtain several Forest Legacy land acquisition grants that brought more than $4 million to Arkansas through the Pine Flatwoods Recovery Initiative, increasing the size of the Warren Prairie Natural Area and creating Moro Big Pine Wildlife Management Area.

In addition, my work on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission added thousands of acres to the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, helping to conserve important wetlands and waterfowl habitat. My work has led to increased and focused funding for ecosystem restoration, resulting in tens of thousands of additional acres of restored oak woodlands.

12. Would you support efforts to reform FEMA, so that the debacles of the inept federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the tornado that hit Desha County, the flood insurance problems that threaten to unnecessarily escalate insurance costs throughout the region, are not continually repeated in the future?

I support making FEMA an independent agency, separate from the Department of Homeland Security. In 2006, I voted to separate the agency and grant it Cabinet-level status. The model we had under the Clinton administration worked, with FEMA as a separate agency. There was no red tape to cut through and we were able to accomplish much more and be more responsive to Arkansans in need. I was highly critical of the Bush administration’s lack of response during Hurricane Katrina and the mistakes made by FEMA, and I will work to ensure that never happens again.

I also believe that FEMA has taken a flawed approach to re-drawing the flood maps. So far, FEMA has still not taken a comprehensive look at our nation’s infrastructure. My top priority is that my constituents are protected by sound levee systems, which is why I have worked tirelessly to provide additional funding annually through the Corps of Engineers to build and maintain levees in Arkansas. I don’t believe FEMA’s levee certification process is contributing to the safety of Arkansas or others around the country who live behind levees. Forcing people who have never had to buy insurance will not prevent a natural disaster or do anything to ensure that a levee system provides the type of protection we all want for those living behind levees.

I will continue to challenge FEMA’s decision-making and do all that I can to prevent the agency from putting this unnecessary burden on Arkansas at a time when they are struggling to make ends meet.

13. Would you support legislation extending and expanding Empowerment Zones, Renewal Communities, Enterprise Communities, the New Markets Tax Credit, and other initiatives to create jobs and spur local entrepreneurial development in the Delta and other economically distressed areas?

Last year, I introduced the Empowerment Zone and Renewal Community Enhancement Act, that would promote economic development in our most distressed rural and urban communities. The legislation would improve the current Empowerment Zone program by modifying it to ensure that existing incentives serve as a useful economic revitalization tool for inner cities and depressed rural areas.

The Senate jobs bill I helped pass through the Senate last month included a one-year extension of certain economically-depressed census tracts as Empowerment Zones, entitling them to certain tax incentives to jumpstart economic development. In these hard times, empowerment zone tax credits can make the difference of whether a business stays open or closes or whether an employee is kept or let go. I have pushed this endeavor in the past and will continue to keep this issue as a priority.

The legislation also includes an extension of the New Markets Tax Credit, providing capital to spur economic development in low-income areas. This is a great program that represents the best of public-private partnership. The investments that these tax credits help create tend to create significant employment opportunities, both through construction jobs and permanent employment.

I also successfully fought to include an additional $3 billion in the Recovery Act for the New Markets Tax Credit program so that Arkansas would receive its fair share. In the past, qualified projects in Arkansas have missed out due to insufficient volumes of funds. But because of my efforts, projects here in Arkansas have been awarded a total of $125 million to help spur investment of new private sector capital into low-income areas.

During the Bush Administration, I fought hard against cuts in these vital programs. In 2008, the Bush Administration sought to eliminate funding for Rural Empowerment Zones, Enterprise Community Grants, and Rural Business Opportunity Grants. I worked to preserve these programs for the important investments they provide to rural Arkansas.

14. Agribusiness has plenty of support and resources, but family farmers and limited resource farmers are under major distress, and many people believe it would be bad public policy to see the entire agriculture sector given over to corporate farmers. What policies would you advocate to help lower income and middle class family farmers?

Arkansas farmers provide the safest, most affordable, most abundant food supply in the world. We cannot afford to see working Arkansas farmers forced out of business because of weather conditions out of their control. That is why I am putting my Chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee to work for Arkansas by securing Senate passage of my agriculture disaster relief package in just three months. The last time we tried to pass disaster relief, it took two years. I understand that family farmers are at much greater risk when inclement weather strikes, which is why I have pushed for timely relief for our farmers. They cannot afford to wait.

In 2008, I cosponsored the Farm Relief Act, which would provide $1.12 billion in assistance to farmers immediately for damage to crops including sugar, rice, cotton, wheat, corn, sugar beets, sweet potatoes and others.

The 2008 Farm Bill, which I helped to author, provided rural Arkansas with a much-needed economic stimulus, families in need with sustenance, and small family farms with the necessary support to continue to produce the food and fiber supply upon which the world relies. In the bill, I sought to ensure that farm and ranch families are able to continue to access safety net programs that are triggered when families need them the most, when yields are low and prices are low.

The bill devotes only 12 percent of its funding to production agriculture. The rest is focused on bolstering nutrition programs and providing rural development funds to promote economic growth and create jobs in rural communities.