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.
Combest Expresses Dismay Over No Reply From Glickman To Attend Farm Crisis Hearing
Washington, DC — After months of repeated calls from farmers, Representatives and Senators for a proposal from the Clinton Administration, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman has failed to even reply to an invitation to appear before the House Agriculture Committee to review the crisis facing American farmers and ranchers.
The complete text of Combest's letter to Secretary Glickman is available upon request.
"Mr. Secretary, with fall harvest fast approaching and after 5 months of deafening quiet on any specifics to help our farmers and ranchers, I believe it's time for the Clinton Administration to finally break its silence," House Agriculture Committee Larry Combest (R-TX) wrote.
"This is not the first time the Administration has been asked to roll up its sleeves and use its vast resources and personnel to help Congress prepare an emergency farm and ranch relief plan," Combest said. "The Administration was put on notice five months ago that Congress would seek its help when a bipartisan group of Senators met on May 5th to discuss farm relief options."
"Since then, every farm group and nearly every Member of Congress with an interest in agriculture has reflected on this serious situation and offered some specific ideas to address the current crisis," Combest wrote. "Yet, at a time when even country musicians have ruminated on the problem long enough to have an opinion, the Administration is still AWOL."
"Frankly, none of us in Congress or in the agriculture community have the resources, personnel, or expertise that you have at your disposal to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the needs in farm country," Combest wrote. "At the end of the day, we in Congress and every farmer and rancher in this nation should be able to look to you."
"Again, I respectfully urge you to work to ensure that the President promptly provides Congress with an official proposal for emergency relief that includes the amount of funding you believe is necessary to get the job done," Combest wrote. "In the absence of an official response, we will have no alternative but to proceed without the Administration."