Opening Statement: Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford: General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee Hearing: The Next Farm Bill: Commodity Policy Part I
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
This is the first hearing of the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management subcommittee in preparation for the next farm bill. Over the course of the next year, we will be examining the policies under our jurisdiction so we can improve upon the 2014 Farm Bill and make sure that the needs of not only American farmers and ranchers are being met, but so that consumers will continue to benefit from a stable farm policy.
In agriculture it is often said that “the cure for high prices is, high prices.” This saying has certainly held true in the past and we are understanding its true meaning right now. When we wrote the legislation that would eventually become the 2014 Farm Bill, farmers were experiencing record prices, net farm income was at all-time highs, and many were led to believe that commodity prices had reached a new plateau. But the old adage rang true yet again, and 4 years later, net farm income has fallen 50 percent, commodity prices are in the tank across the board, and producers, especially the beginning farmers, those highly leveraged, and those that were unable to capitalize on high prices, are struggling to get financing so they can farm another year. We are on the verge of a real crisis in rural America.
The current situation in the countryside provides a textbook example for why we have farm bills in the first place. The farm bill is not meant to provide help when times are good. Rather, the farm bill helps producers survive the bad times so they can farm another year, raise their families, and one day pass their homestead on to the next generation.
Today we will examine how the commodity and crop insurance provisions are faring for barley, corn, sorghum, soybeans, and wheat producers. We will hear many acronyms thrown around like ARC, PLC, SCO, and STAX. But let us not lose sight that amongst the confusion, amongst the technical speak, there are real life men and women with dirt under their fingernails who are just hoping to make it through these tough times. At the end of each one of these policies are people that are responsible for providing the safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply in the world. And that benefits each and every one of our constituents.
I am glad to see that we have such an outstanding set of panelists here today. Thank you to each one of you for taking the time out of your busy schedules and away from your operations to join us. Your commitment to improving farm policy for all of your fellow producers does not go unnoticed by the members of this subcommittee.
Whether you are from Jonesboro Arkansas like myself, the iron range of Minnesota like the ranking member, or even the Virgin Islands like Ms. Plaskett, every member of this subcommittee has a vested interest in making sure that we get this policy correct, because we all have people in our districts that need to eat. And we need to make sure that America’s farmers and ranchers are equipped to feed them.
I look forward to hearing from this panel, and I yield to the ranking member, Mr. Nolan for any opening comments he would like to make.