As the Representative for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, I believe my first job is to listen to those I represent and work on their behalf in Congress. That’s why before each vote I take, I first ask, “How are the people I represent affected?” And for me, the district’s and Alabama’s interests will always come first.
The 2015 budget deal did not put Alabama’s interests first in a number of ways, and that’s why I voted no. There were several reasons I could not support this deal that was passed by the House and Senate. To name a few, the top-down process by which the bill was conceived was all wrong, and I believe we could have charted a much stronger fiscal course.
But, more specifically, I could not support the budget deal because of the way it broke faith with the agricultural community and gutted the crop insurance program by $3 billion. As someone who worked hard back in 2012 and 2013 to pass a good, conservative Farm Bill that actually saves money, I remember what a big deal it was when we ended direct farm payments and moved to a more conservative, sustainable crop insurance program. It was a needed reform, but it only worked because the agricultural community knew it could count on a reliable risk management program to keep an otherwise volatile industry stable.
Not everyone I work with in Congress represents a district with such a large agricultural footprint. What I try to explain to them is that when you mess around with the crop insurance program, you aren’t just affecting farmers who put the seed in the ground. You’re affecting the ones who sell the seed, who build the equipment to cultivate and harvest the crop, and those who help process the goods into their final products. That farming dollar turns over many times, and there is an entire agriculture supply chain that is affected by farm policies set by Congress. To come in and change the rules in the middle of the game is unfair, and I won’t stand for it.
Now the focus goes to fixing the problem. I have co-sponsored the Crop Insurance Restoration Act authored by my colleague Rep. David Young of Iowa to undo this irresponsible action. I’m also looking forward to working alongside with Rep. Robert Aderholt, my fellow Alabamian and chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, to ensure proper crop insurance levels are restored on the Appropriations side. Remember you can always follow this and other important issues on my Facebook page and website, roby.house.gov.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She is in her third term.