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Local congressman expresses disappointment, some satisfaction

I wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on some ongoing issues being addressed in Congress as of late and what I have been working on for Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District and you.

Farm Bill: Bipartisanship still exists in your Congress, and some committees still allow regular order and the democratic system to work its will the way it is supposed to. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I joined my colleagues recently in marking up the 2013 Farm Bill. With the give and take on our committee, I was able to secure numerous amendments vital to the continued success of Oregon’s agriculture industries. One establishes a long sought check-off program for the Christmas tree industry by requiring the USDA to let this non-taxpayer, industry-funded promotion and research program to go forward. Another removes the statutory barriers that currently prevent the creation of an organic check-off program and allows organic producers to institute their own industry-funded USDA research and promotion program should they choose to do so. I was also able to target wildlife control programs to underserved areas, instead of them competing with private enterprise in urban environments. Lastly, an amendment of mine begins a rational discussion with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to allow mobile veterinarians to practice their craft safely and humanely again using the medicine they need.

The one aspect of the bill that I remain disappointed in was the draconian cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP, which helped feed more than 800,000 hungry Oregonians in 2012. I offered an amendment to reduce the SNAP cuts from $20.5 billion to $4.4 billion, similar to the cuts that were included in the Senate farm bill and supported in a bipartisan manner, but that amendment was voted down. It is my hope that when the House and Senate go to conference to work out a 2013 farm bill these cuts are drastically reduced if not removed from the bill all together.

Forest roads: I have re-introduced bipartisan legislation reaffirming the Environmental Protection Agency’s 37-year-old policy toward regulation of runoff from forest roads. The Silviculture Regulatory Consistency Act would aid efforts to increase timber harvests and forestry jobs by preventing unnecessary litigation on a question that the U.S. Supreme Court settled in the EPA’s favor earlier this year. The bill, like the Supreme Court decision, upholds the EPA’s existing policy, which does not require additional water discharge permits for forest roads. The ability to independently manage our forests in a sustainable and responsible way is crucial to the vitality of Oregon’s rural economies and helps to keep our forests healthy and thriving.

No Labels organization: As a founding member of the legislative branch of the bipartisan No Labels movement, I have been committed to working with colleagues of all political stripes to stop fighting and start finding solutions to our country’s greatest problems. No Labels promotes its politics of problem solving in three ways: by organizing citizens across America, providing a space for legislators who want to solve problems to convene and by pushing for commonsense reforms to make our government work. You can find out more about No Labels and the work we are trying to accomplish at nolabels.org.

As always, it is an honor to represent you in Congress, and I look forward to your feedback.

Kurt Schrader represents Clackamas County in the U.S. Congress.



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