Rep. Austin Scott, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, held a public hearing to review the impact of enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on specialty crop growers. Specifically, Subcommittee Members addressed growing concerns that DOL is using the "Hot Goods" provision under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) in an arbitrary manner against producers of perishable agricultural commodities without regard for the inevitable destruction of the product and significant economic hardship inflicted on farmers and their employees.
Ag Committee Chairman and Ranking Member Discuss Farm Bill Funding Before House Budget Committee
WASHINGTON - House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson (D-MN) and Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) testified before the House Budget Committee this afternoon to outline the funding needs for the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization.
The Agriculture Committee leaders urged the Budget Committee to increase the financial resources available for this year's Farm Bill proposals over the amount provided in the most recent CBO baseline.
The Farm Bill authorizes commodity support, agricultural trade, marketing, federal Food Stamp, foreign food assistance, and rural development policies over several years. The current farm bill was written in 2002, and many of the provisions in tfhat bill will expire in September of 2007.
"I appreciate Ranking Member Goodlatte joining me today as we discussed spending priorities for the 2007 Farm Bill," Chairman Peterson said. "The Farm Bill is an important set of policies that provide a safety net for agriculture producers and rural communities and ensures that all Americans continue to have access to the safest, most abundant food supply in the world."
In 2006, former Chairman Goodlatte led House Agriculture Committee members in a series of field hearings held across America to find out from farmers and ranchers, as well as processors and consumers, about their views on the 2002 Farm Bill and where it can be improved.
"Throughout our hearings, a common concern shared by farmers and ranchers of all facets of agricultural production was the increasing cost of environmental compliance requirements. I asked the Budget Committee for the resources needed to help our farmers and ranchers, who are our first and best stewards of the land, to comply with the complex and costly web of federal regulation that govern land use," said Rep. Goodlatte.
This year's Farm Bill debate will include new proposals that will require additional resources from the Budget Committee. A strong energy title is essential to facilitate investments in the expanding agriculturally-based renewable energy market, including ethanol and biodiesel.
"The bottom line is that additional resources are needed to produce a policy that facilitates a strong farm sector and helps our nation move toward energy independence in a fiscally responsible way," Peterson said. "I look forward to working with the Budget Committee to achieve these goals and I appreciate their willingness to hear our testimony today."