Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to examine the benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America.
Jurisdiction of the Committee
Rules of the House of Representatives
Establishment and Jurisdiction of Standing Committees
- There shall be in the House the following standing committees, each of which shall have the jurisdiction and related functions assigned to it by this clause and clauses 2, 3, and 4; and all bills, resolutions, and other matters relating to subject within the jurisdiction of any standing committee as listed in this clause shall (in accordance with and subject to clause 5) be referred to such committees, as follows:
- COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
- Adulteration of seeds, insect pests, and protection of birds and animals in forest reserves.
- Agriculture generally.
- Agricultural and industrial chemistry.
- Agricultural colleges and experiment stations.
- Agricultural economics and research.
- Agricultural education extension services.
- Agricultural production and marketing and stabilization of prices of agricultural products, and commodities (not including distribution outside of the United States).
- Animal industry and diseases of animals.
- Commodity exchanges.
- Crop insurance and soil conservation.
- Dairy industry.
- Entomology and plant quarantine.
- Extension of farm credit and farm security.
- Inspection of livestock, poultry, meat products, and seafood and seafood products.
- Forestry in general, and forest reserves other than those created from the public domain.
- Human nutrition and home economics.
- Plant industry, soils, and agricultural engineering.
- Rural electrification.
- Rural development.
- Water conservation related to activities of the Department of Agriculture.
This committee was established in 1820 (IV, 4149). In 1880 the subject of forestry was added to its jurisdiction, and the committee was conferred authority to receive estimates of and to report appropriations (IV, 4149). However, on July 1, 1920, authority to report appropriations for the De- partment of Agriculture was transferred to the Committee on Appropria- tions (VII, 1860).
The basic form of the present jurisdictional statement was made effective January 2, 1947, as a part of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (60 Stat. 812). Subparagraph (7) was altered by the 93d Congress, effective January 3, 1975, to include jurisdiction over agricultural commodities (in- cluding the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)) while transferring juris- diction over foreign distribution and nondomestic production of commod- ities to the Committee on Foreign Affairs (H. Res. 988, 93d Cong., Oct.
8, 1974, p. 34470). Nevertheless, the committee has retained limited jurisdiction over measures to release CCC stocks for such foreign distribution (Sept. 14, 1989, p. 20428). Previously unstated jurisdictions over commod- ities exchanges and rural development were codified effective January 3,1975.
The 104th Congress consolidated the committee’s jurisdiction over in- spection of livestock and meat products to include inspection of poultry, seafood, and seafood products, and added subparagraph (20) relating to water conservation (sec. 202(a), H. Res. 6, Jan. 4, 1995, p. 464). Clerical and stylistic changes were effected when the House recodified its rules in the 106th Congress (H. Res. 5, Jan. 6, 1999, p. 47).
The committee has had jurisdiction over bills for establishing and regu- lating the Department of Agriculture (IV, 4150), for inspection of livestock and meat products, regulation of animal industry, diseases of animals (IV,4154; VII, 1862), adulteration of seeds, insect pests, protection of birds and animals in forest reserves (IV, 4157; VII, 1870), the improvement of the breed of horses, even with the cavalry service in view (IV, 4158; VII,1865), and, in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, amend- ing the Horse Protection Act to prevent the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, or receiving of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption (July 13, 2006, p. 14304).
The committee, having charge of the general subject of forestry, has re- ported bills relating to timber, and forest reserves other than those created from the public domain (IV, 4160). The Committee on Natural Resources, and not this committee, has jurisdiction over a bill to convey land that is part of a National Forest created from the public domain (Mar. 23, 2004, p. 4926). The committee also has exercised jurisdiction over bills: relating to agricultural colleges and experiment stations (IV, 4152), incorporation of agricultural societies (IV, 4159), and establishment of a highway commis- sion (IV, 4153); to discourage fictitious and gambling transactions in farm products (IV, 4161; VII, 1861); to regulate the transportation, sale, and handling of dogs and cats intended for use in research and the licensing of animal research facilities (July 29, 1965, p. 18691); to designate an agri- cultural research center (May 14, 1996, p. 11070). The committee shares with the Committee on the Judiciary jurisdiction over a bill comprehen- sively amending the Immigration and Nationality Act and including food stamp eligibility requirements for aliens (Sept. 19, 1995, p. 25533).
The House referred the President’s message dealing with the refinancing of farm-mortgage indebtedness to the committee, thus conferring jurisdic- tion (Apr. 4, 1933, p. 1209).
The committee has jurisdiction over a bill relating solely to executive level positions in the Department of Agriculture (Mar. 2, 1976, p. 4958) and has jurisdiction over bills to develop land and water conservation pro- grams on private and non-Federal lands (June 7, 1976, p. 16768).
Some of the specific areas in which the Committee on Agriculture exercises its jurisdiction or that have been created for the Committee by historical reference include:
- Public Law 480, Eighty-third Congress, the restoration, expansion, and development of foreign markets for United States agricultural products; and the effect of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (and the North American Free Trade Agreement), bilateral free trade agreements, the European Community, and other regional economic agreements and commodity marketing and pricing systems on United States agriculture.
- All matters relating to the establishment and development of an effective Foreign Agricultural Service.
- Matters relating to rural development, including rural telephone companies, farm credit banks, farm rural housing loans, rural water supply, rural flood control and water pollution control programs, and loans for rural firehouses, community facilities, and businesses.
- Production and use of energy from agricultural and forestry resources.
- Matters relating to the development, use, and administration of the National Forests, including, but not limited to, development of a sound program for general public use of the National Forests consistent with watershed protection and sustained-yield timber management, study of the forest fire prevention and control policies and activities of the Forest Service and their relation to coordinated activities of other Federal, State, and private agencies; Forest Service land exchanges; and wilderness and similar use designations applied to National Forest land.
- Price spreads of agricultural commodities between producers and consumers.
- The formulation and development of improved programs for agricultural commodities; matters relating to the inspection, grading, and marketing of such commodities, including seafood; and food safety generally.
- Matters relating to trading in futures contracts for all commodities and similar instruments, including commodity options and commodity leverage contracts.
- The administration and operation of agricultural programs through State and county committees and the administrative policies and procedures relating to the selection, election, and operation of such committees.
- The administration and development of small watershed programs under Public Law 566, Eighty-third Congress, as amended, and the development of resource conservation and development programs for rural areas.
- Programs of food assistance or distribution supported in whole or in part by funds of the Department of Agriculture, including but not limited to the food stamp program and the commodity distribution program.
- Aquaculture programs of the Department of Agriculture.
- Sugar legislation, including import control programs that stabilize domestic prices.
- All matters relating to pesticides, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, as amended, the Federal Environmental Pesticide Control Act of 1972, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Amendments of 1988, and the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996, including, but not limited to, the registration, marketing, and safe use of pesticides, groundwater contamination, and the coordination of the pesticide program under FIFRA with food safety programs.
- Agricultural research programs, including, but not limited to, the authorization of specific research projects and agricultural biotechnology development efforts.
- All matters relating to the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act.
- Legislation relating to the control of the entry into the United States of temporary, nonresident aliens for employment in agricultural production.
- Legislation relating to the general operations and the Organic Act of the Department of Agriculture, the Commodity Credit Corporation, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation, Farm Credit Administration, Farm Credit System, Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
- Producer-funded research, promotion, and consumer and industry information programs for agricultural commodities.
- Legislation regarding reclamation water projects where the pricing of water delivered by such projects is affected by whether the water will be used in the production of a crop for which an acreage reduction program is in effect.
- Legislation regarding reclamation water projects for which the Secretary of Agriculture is required to make a determination regarding commodity availability prior to the determination of the price to be charged for the delivery of such project water.
- Legislation establishing the level of fees charged by the Federal Government for the grazing of livestock on Federal lands.
- Legislation governing the Federal regulation of transactions involving swaps contracts, hybrid financial instruments, and derivative securities and financial products.
- Legislation regarding the Federal Reserve Board with respect to its authority to regulate the establishment of appropriate levels of margin on stock index futures contracts.
The Committee also reviews and studies, on a continuing basis, the current and prospective application, administration, execution, and effectiveness of those laws, or parts of laws, the subject matter of which is within the jurisdiction of the Committee, and the organization and operation of the Federal agencies and entities having responsibilities in or for the administration and execution thereof. In addition, the Committee, along with other standing Committees of the House, has the function of reviewing and studying on a continuing basis the effect or probable effect of tax and other fiscal and monetary policies affecting subjects within their jurisdiction
 References are to the volume and section of Hinds' (volumes I-V, e.g., IV, 500) and Cannon's (volumes VI-VIII, e.g., VI, 400) Precedents of the House of Representatives, and to the Congressional Record by date and page (e.g., January 3, 1953, p. 500).