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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Southerland, blamed for collapse of farm bill, gets Putnam backing



Florida Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, is in damage control mode after being blamed, in part, for the collapse of the farm bill. Southerland offered up an amendment, endorsed by Gov. Rick Scott, that would force food stamp recipients to adhere to federal work requirements. Democrats cited it as a reason why they backed away from a deal, which killed the bill.

So Southerland cobbled together a string of glowing comments and put them in a news release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and two leading statewide agriculture organizations thanked U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland today for his leadership in fighting to advance a House Farm Bill.  The Farm Bill fell short of passage last night, despite the support of 171 Republicans, including Southerland, and 24 Democrats.

“Rep. Steve Southerland is a tireless advocate for Florida agriculture and a strong defender of Florida’s taxpayers,”said Commissioner Putnam. “He’s worked with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to develop a farm bill that would provide funding for projects critical to the long-term sustainability of Florida’s $100 billion agriculture industry, but also cut wasteful spending and implement much-needed reforms. While I am disappointed Congress could not come together in a bipartisan manner to support the 2013 Farm Bill, I appreciate Rep. Southerland’s leadership in this effort. I hope Congress will consider the best interests of the American people and come back together to pass meaningful legislation to secure the future of our nation’s food supply.”

“I appreciate Representative Steve Southerland’s good faith efforts to advance the Farm Bill,” said John Hoblick, President of Florida Farm Bureau.  “I have no doubt about his commitment to the farmers in his district and throughout Florida.  Florida Farm Bureau thanks Rep. Southerland for supporting a proposed farm bill that would have provided the necessary risk management tools for the farmers and ranchers who produce the food, fiber and fuel for all Americans and it would have achieved meaningful reforms to antiquated agricultural public policy.”

“Congressman Southerland has been a great champion for Florida agriculture during this rollercoaster process,”said Mike Stuart, Executive Vice President of Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.  “FFVA’s members sincerely appreciate his commitment to the vital specialty crop programs that we are confident will ultimately continue after the House regroups.

Southerland had previously issued a statement on the vote:

“A majority of the House took a stand today on the side of empowering individuals in need with the same sensible work and job training requirements as those included in bipartisan welfare reform of the 1990s.  Our amendment provided states with the voluntary option of following a proven path to self-sufficiency, while ensuring the most vulnerable among us receive the support they need in a more efficient and effective manner.

“Unfortunately, some of my colleagues resorted to last minute political posturing and scare tactics that derailed an entire Farm Bill that America’s farmers and agricultural industries desperately need.  I remain committed to advancing a Farm Bill out of the House, and to upholding the value of work for able-bodied Americans.”

[Last modified: Monday, June 24, 2013 1:09pm]


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