Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the House and the Senate passed S. 2745 extending agricultural programs that were scheduled to expire on March 15, 2008. This legislation specifically extends the existing programs authorized under the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 until April 18, 2008. This underlying authorization provides for the food stamp programs in both American Samoa and Puerto Rico through Consolidated Block Grants.
“Today, both the House and the Senate passed an important extension that will provide for our food stamp program in American Samoa. This program is vital for the livelihoods of the many families who are struggling to survive. Given that over 50-percent of our population lives under the poverty level, limited programs such as food stamp provide for our low-income households and the elderly. This illustrates the significance of this extension,” Faleomavaega said.
“With the looming deadline of March 15, my good friend Congressman Fortuño and I submitted a joint-letter expressing the serious impacts if the ‘farm bill’ legislation was not extended or made into law. Because almost 30-percent of Puerto Rico’s four million residents receive assistance through these block grants, it is only necessary that Congress act immediately to resolve these issues.”
In July 2007, the House passed H.R. 2419, the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, or the current “farm bill” which includes provisions extending the Consolidated Block Grants for Puerto Rico and American Samoa. The same legislation was amended and passed by the Senate in December 2007. However, the legislation has not gone through the process of conference between the House and the Senate.
“This extension will provide adequate time for the House and Senate to resolve their differences concerning the ‘farm bill.’ The ‘farm bill’ is critical because it will provide support for commodity programs such as agricultural crops and dairy products that have been stretched by the increase in fuel prices and a weakening economy. I am hopeful that these issues will be resolved during the upcoming recess.”
“I want to take this opportunity to personally thank Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte of Virginia of the Committee on Agriculture for their continued support for American Samoa and Puerto Rico. I also want to thank my good friend Congressman Fortuño of Puerto Rico for his diligence on matters affecting the people of Puerto Rico. I want to commend the Director of DHSS, I’aulualo Fa’afetai Talia for his work on administrating our food stamp program in American Samoa,” Faleomavaega concluded.