U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson - 2nd District of Idaho
U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson - 2nd District of Idaho
House of Representatives Passes the Farm Bill:                  

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson released the following statement regarding House passage of H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. The bill passed on July 11, with a final vote of 216-208.

“The certainty a farm bill provides to Idaho's farmers and rural communities is critical to the economy of our state,” said Simpson. “I am encouraged by this development and hopeful that Congress has taken a step toward more certainty for farmers and greater savings for taxpayers. I hope the House and Senate can reconcile their two versions quickly and put a new farm bill place in the next few weeks.”

Congressman Simpson Meets with FDA Officials to Voice Concerns About New Water Quality Rules Affecting Fruit and Vegetable Growers:

Congressman Simpson and Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon led a July 10 meeting on Capitol Hill with other members of Congress and top officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to directly convey concerns they have heard from Idaho and Oregon onion farmers and fruit growers about new water quality rules that could cripple family farms nationwide. 

Representatives Simpson and Walden invited the FDA officials to travel to Idaho and Oregon, and the officials are planning a trip to Idaho, Oregon and Washington next month to hear from Northwest growers first-hand.

 “I’m greatly concerned about the impact the FDA’s proposed rule will have on agriculture in Idaho,” said Congressman Simpson. “With an administration that seems to issue an abundance of rules and regulations for all industry, it is especially important that we seek input from Idaho producers to ensure that we reach an effective and sensible solution.”

The FDA delegation was led by Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.  Other members of Congress present included Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), and Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.).

Many farmers have pointed out that the proposed rule lacks common sense and a crop-specific approach, resulting in many of the proposed provisions being unworkable in the field, literally speaking.  Representatives Simpson and Walden have heard from growers who are worried that grouping over 200 crops together in one category fails to account for differing risk profiles and production practices, which has led to the proposed requirements that may be unworkable for particular crops.  

Congressman Simpson’s Potato Amendment Allowing Inclusion of Fresh Potatoes in WIC Passes the House Appropriations Committee:

On June 13, the House Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson is a member of the committee and once again offered an amendment to allow states to include fresh potatoes in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Congressman Simpson’s amendment passed by voice vote.

“Fresh potatoes have been excluded from the WIC program despite their widely known nutritional value,” said Congressman Simpson. “This amendment corrects the exclusion of fresh potatoes and allows participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families.”

Potatoes are currently excluded from the WIC program despite being nutrient dense, affordable, low in calories, and free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. A medium-sized potato contains more potassium than a banana and is a good source of dietary fiber—both of which are “nutrients of concern,” meaning those nutrients most lacking in Americans’ diets, according to USDA’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 

The bill was approved by the full committee on a voice vote and now awaits consideration by the full House.

To view Congressman Simpson defending fresh potatoes in the House Appropriations Committee, visit his YouTube page.

 For the text of the bill please visit:   http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/bills-113hr-sc-ap-fy2014-agriculture-subcommitteedraft.pdf and http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-2014-agriculture.pdf