U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, whose 6th District now embraces virtually all of northern Missouri, was in Maryville Monday as part of a swing through the northwest part of the state focusing on small business.
Graves, who chairs the House Small Business Committee, spoke to a small group of business owners and local officials at Compass Dental after being given a tour of the locally owned clinic by Drs. Bruce Twaddle and Brian Vierthaler.
Others attending the session included Councilman Ron Moss, City Manager Greg McDanel, Nodaway County Economic Development Director Lee Langerock and Chamber of Commerce Director Luke Reven.
Graves briefly addressed a number of topics in response to questions, touching on such issues as the federal budget, regulatory reform, the pending farm bill and mandated federal budget cuts known collectively as the sequester.
Last week, for the first time in four years, the Democrat-controlled Senate approved a federal budget, which still needs to be reconciled with the version passed earlier by the GOP-led House of Representatives.
According to Congress' "regular order," a committee consisting of members from both chambers is now to proceed with working out a compromise, but leaders on both sides have yet to work out the details.
Graves said the government has been operating on budget extensions and continuing resolutions for too long, but that a solution remains elusive.
"It's a problem, and it's a real serious problem," he said.
On other fronts, Graves addressed attempts by his committee to push for regulatory reform that would affect such entities as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Labor.
He said one issue is lack of public awareness about the comment periods required before new regulations, which often carry the force of law, can be enforced.
Information regarding comment periods and regulations scheduled for enforcement are to be posted on the Small Business Committee website at smallbusiness.house.gov, Graves said.
Turning to the the farm bill, Graves said agriculture legislation could come up in the House of Representatives sometime later next month. Longstanding attempts to strip most or all farm subsidies out of the bill are likely to succeed this year, he said, adding that he hopes subsidies will be replaced by a comprehensive crop insurance program.
Only about 5 percent of past farm bills have addressed subsidies, Graves said, while the bulk of the legislation pertains to nutritional initiatives such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition service, commonly known as WIC.
Graves, a professional farmer, said he favors eliminating subsidies and believes a properly administered insurance system will provide adequate stabilization of commodities prices.
"We're doing very well in agriculture right now, and the days of farm subsidies are numbered," he said. "They (subsidies) aren't going to last forever, so we need to get rid of them while we're doing well.
Page 2 of 2 - Farmers want to be in charge of their own destiny."
With regard to sequestration, Graves said the cuts amount to only two cents out of every federal dollar spent. The problem, he claimed, is that President Barack Obama has declined to allow individual agencies to reduce their own budgets, insisting that the cuts be across board.
Graves added that the Federal Aviation Administration set a dangerous precedent when it tapped its infrastructure trust fund— which is financed with fuel taxes and earmarked for airport and runway improvements — in order to make up for reduced operational appropriations.