Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Subcommittee Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson: Focus on the Farm Economy: Impacts of Environmental Regulations and Voluntary Conservation Solutions

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Washington, May 17, 2016 | comments

Remarks as prepared:

Good morning. Each subcommittee has been tasked with highlighting issues within their respective jurisdictions that impact the economic well-being of rural America. Throughout this series of hearings on the farm economy, one of the consistent themes has been that government rules and regulations are overly burdensome and negatively impact the bottom line and long-term success of our farmers and ranchers.

In a hearing more than two months ago with EPA Administrator McCarthy, members engaged in extensive questioning regarding actions her agency has taken which impose considerable costs with questionable, if any, benefits. It seems that every day brings a new regulation, new litigation, or another case of unelected bureaucrats running wild across America’s farms and ranches. The Administration’s extreme environmental agenda, with its blatant disregard for the impact it will have on rural, has increased the cost of doing business for America’s farmers and ranchers at a time when producers are already experiencing a 56 percent drop in net farm income over the past 3 years. 

It has become increasingly clear that some government agencies and environmental activist organizations ignore or otherwise discount the commitment our farmers, ranchers and foresters make to environmental stewardship. Every day the Administration seems to demonstrate how vastly disconnected it is from the folks who provide our food, fiber and energy. They do not seem to realize that rural America’s economy is dependent on agriculture. A thriving agriculture sector breeds a healthy rural economy.

The path the Administration has chosen forces farmers and ranchers to spend more and more time complying with regulations. I believe that both the environment and those who work the land are all better served when our time and resources are directed to what really works: locally-led and incentive-based approaches that help restore and protect our natural resources while encouraging a healthy rural economy.

The critics forget that farmers and ranchers are the best and original stewards of the land. They continually find new and innovative ways to reduce energy usage, reduce emissions, and sequester carbon while still providing America with an abundant and affordable food and fiber supply. All of us share a common goal: the continued health and vitality of our natural resources. To me, the path is clear: voluntary conservation programs work.  If we want a real solution to cleaner natural resources then we should continue to focus on incentives, innovation, and research that stimulate the rural economy; not backdoor energy taxes, mandates and more burdensome regulations. 

Today, our first panel will discuss many of the regulatory challenges that impact production on our nation’s farmers and ranchers. While the farm bill conservation programs somewhat mitigate these impacts, our nation’s farmers continue to operate on very thin - and in some cases negative - margins.

Our second panel will more broadly discuss the locally led solutions to addressing natural resource concerns. No two producers face the same natural resource concerns, and there is no shortage of reasons why we must continue to innovate when it comes to preserving our natural resources.

The record that is created today will be extremely beneficial. Thank you all for being here. I now yield to the distinguished Ranking Member, Rep. Lujan Grisham for any comments she wishes to make.

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