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Roby, Agriculture Committee Chairman Conaway Address Farmers

U.S. Representative Martha Roby, R-Alabama, and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, met with farmers in Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District to discuss agriculture policy, the farm bill and growing trade concerns.

At the beginning of the day, Roby and Conaway addressed a packed crowd of farmers in Troy at the Pike County Cattleman’s Association Building. The congress members then toured farms in Pike, Coffee and Geneva Counties.

“It was a great day visiting farms and discussing agriculture policy in the Wiregrass,” Roby said. “I deeply appreciate House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and his wife Suzanne for making themselves available to the farmers in Alabama’s Second District. I believe it was a truly valuable experience for the people I represent to have the opportunity to discuss with me and the Ag Chairman the agriculture policies before Congress, especially the farm bill. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to deliver a smart, strong farm bill to the President for his signature soon.”

The Alabama Political Reporter asked whether U.S., China and other nations appear to be on the verge of a trade war. Soybeans traded in June at their five-year low and there much concern that an escalating trade war could dramatically impact commodity prices and the farm economy.

Roby said that she has heard concerns from the farmers, she was carrying those concerns with her to Washington and that they were watching that situation closely.

The Alabama Farmers Federation’s (ALFA) Jimmy Parnell said that the trade negotiations are ongoing and isn’t finished yet and that the farmers are making their concerns heard in Washington.

Both the House and the Senate have passed the farm bill, but they are radically different versions of the bill. Conaway’s committee drafted a more conservative version of the bill that included work requirements for able bodied people receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) still commonly referred to as food stamps.

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“If you want to work 20 hours a week and/or participate in state-based, state-run federally funded job training program then we’re going to help you,” Conaway said. Conaway said that Americans from both political parties support that when polled.

Conaway acknowledged that the farm bill that comes out of conference committee will be something between the two existing versions of the bill. Conway said that the Senate rules are such that the Senate Agriculture Committee had to get Democratic Party vote. The House farm bill narrowly passed by just two votes. No House Democrats voted for the House farm bill.

The farm bill sets agriculture and food stamps policy for the next five years, Conaway said.

“It’s important we get this farm bill done on time,” Conaway said.

Roby is in the Republican primary runoff on July 17 against former Congressman Bobby Bright.

APR asked Roby: Some critics of yours have said that you are not conservative enough. After the primary and three candidates got knocked out leaving just you and Congressman Bright are you the most conservative candidate left in this race?

“Absolutely,” Roby said. “I stand on my conservative voting record. Look at Bright’s voting record. He voted for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. He could have voted for the Republican alternative to Obamacare and he didn’t.”

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Conaway said that he appreciates the work that Roby does and that she is an ally on the Appropriations Committee.

Roby is an attorney and a former Montgomery City Councilwoman. She defeated Bright (who was then a Democrat) in the 2010 general election. Bright is a former Mayor of Montgomery.

The eventual winner of the Republican primary will face Tabitha Isner (D) in the November 6 general election.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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