On Thursday, a coalition of Agriculture groups (including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Wheat Growers, USA Rice Federation, and the National Cotton Council) sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to vote against HR2868, the Chemical and Drinking Water Security Act of 2009.
On Friday, the measure passed in the House of Representatives, 230-193.
Congressman Frank Lucas, ranking member of the Agricultural Committee, voted against it. He also argued against the bill before the vote. Following are the points he made in his arguments:
"It no longer surprises me that the Democratic leadership is once again racing to impose more government mandates on our farmers, ranchers and small businesses without considering the economic impact of their actions.
"From cap and trade to food safety to soon health care ��“ rushing ill-conceived, ill-timed legislation through Congress has shamefully become the norm around here.
"In renaming the bill from the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act to the Chemical and Water Security Act, I appreciate that the authors of the bill at least acknowledge that it has nothing to do with protecting our country from acts of terrorism. But, rather it has everything to do with pacifying the extreme environmental lobby.
"Some have said that agriculture should not be concerned about this legislation.
"Let me be clear: this bill will have a deep and negative impact on the agriculture industry.
"In essence, this sets up a scenario where input supplies will be limited, costs will sky-rocket, and U.S. food security and the livelihood of our farmers will be threatened.
"Beyond devastating the agriculture industry, this bill does not provide any additional security against acts of terrorism, which is supposed to be its purpose.
"National security will actually be compromised since provisions in the bill would allow citizen lawsuits in the national and homeland security arena. The Department of Homeland Security has testified that these suits would result in the release of very sensitive security information through the legal process that would ultimately help terrorists.
"H.R. 2868 is an irresponsible and carelessly crafted piece of legislation that will impose mandates on family farms, small businesses, hospitals, and universities.
It expands an environmental legal framework under the disguise of a security bill, and fails to preserve, let alone expand, current security protections for our country.
Food Costs to Increase Dramatically
After the results of the vote were known, a press release from Rep. Lucas said the following:
"This vote was another hit to agriculture and to the American consumer. Under this legislation, it’s going to be significantly more expensive for agricultural input producers to provide farmers with the necessary tools for agriculture production. Without inputs like fertilizers and pesticides, it will be difficult for farmers to produce the same amount of product at the same high quality we have come to expect. Ultimately, this means our food costs will dramatically increase, or we will become reliant on foreign food imports."