Opening Statement: Chairman K. Michael Conaway Committee on Agriculture Business Meeting: Budget Views & Estimates Letter
The underlying message in the letter is straightforward:
America’s farmers and ranchers are in economic trouble right now. Net farm income is down 50 percent from where it stood just four years ago. The Agriculture Committee pledged to save $23 billion in the 2014 Farm Bill but we wound up saving four times that amount.
There are holes in the farm safety net that need mending in the next Farm Bill, a Farm Bill we aim to develop and enact into law on time. However, exactly what financial resources will be required to accomplish this goal is not clear at this time. Moreover, we have had a robust number of hearings on SNAP to determine what is working and what might need improvement. This is an ongoing and bipartisan exercise, and it will take time to arrive at a bipartisan conclusion, which is certainly my aim.
The bottom line is this: we do not yet know what resources we will need to write an effective, new Farm Bill. But, what we do know is that our Committee has more than demonstrated our fiscal bona fides and we have earned the budget flexibility that may be necessary to craft and enact into law the 2018 Farm Bill.
In closing, I want to underscore again how serious the economic conditions are right now in farm and ranch country. Things are rough right now, and they are likely to get a lot worse before they get better. So, I could not agree more with the President when he says that farmers and ranchers deserve a strong safety net and a good Farm Bill passed on time.
With that, I would recognize my friend and Ranking Member for any remarks he may have.