Opening Statement: Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford: General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee Hearing: The Next Farm Bill: Commodity Policy Part II
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good morning and welcome to today’s hearing. This hearing is a continuation of the series we have been holding over the past month in preparation for the next farm bill. Over the course of the next several months, we will be working to improve upon the 2014 Farm Bill and ensure the needs of not only American farmers and ranchers are being met, but that consumers will continue to benefit from sound and stable farm policy.
Last week we heard from producers of corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, and sorghum about what is and is not working in the 2014 Farm Bill for those crops. This week we will have the opportunity to hear the perspective of the cotton, rice, peanut, canola, and sugar industries.
As members of this committee are aware, these hearings come at a period of time when the farm bill is being tested, and that is exactly the period of time by which they should be judged. Commodity prices are in the tank across the board and have been for several years. Net farm income has fallen 50% in 4 years, the steepest decline since the Great Depression. It is times like these when getting farm policy right is critical for farmers and ranchers. As then-Chairman Lucas was fond of saying, Farm Bills are not written for the good times. They are written for the bad times like we are experiencing now.
Last week we heard the message that the farm safety net largely was working as intended and the framework should be left alone. That said, witnesses pointed out additional tweaks – like improving the yields used to calculate ARC guarantees – would be needed to provide a functioning safety net.
While we will hear about what is and is not working, we will also have the opportunity to hear from a crop that was left out of the commodity title in the last farm bill altogether – and that is cotton. We will hear about the effects that this lack of policy has had on the cotton industry and the ripple effect across other crops and rural communities. While Committee leadership at the time warned this could happen, this provides yet another real world example of why we need sensible farm policies in place for all major commodities.
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.
With that, I yield to the ranking member, Mr. Nolan, for any opening comments he would like to make.