WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Larry Combest (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Forestry, Resource Conservation, and Research, today began a series of hearings to thoroughly examine our nation's agriculture research infrastructure for the first time in fifteen years, as the Committee prepares to reauthorize agriculture research programs prior to the end of this fiscal year.
The 1996 Farm Bill reauthorized agriculture research programs through fiscal year 1997, effectively requiring Congress to reexamine the nation's agriculture research infrastructure prior to the end of the current fiscal year. In light of the Farm Bill's market-oriented reforms, both the House and the Senate Agriculture Committees have decided to thoroughly examine agriculture research efforts for the first time since the early 1980's so that agriculture research programs may better serve the needs of both farmers and consumers.
"It's been fifteen years since we've taken a comprehensive look at agriculture research programs, and it's high time that we took a long, hard look at our agriculture research efforts," said Combest. "Agriculture research is the foundation of our farm economy, and it's critical that every dollar we spend get the maximum return from our investment. This committee will take the time to listen to representatives from USDA, land-grant colleges, and from the private sector and we'll try to build a consensus to take agriculture research into the 21st century."
"The Agriculture Committee has a duty to farmers and ranchers to make sure that our agriculture research funds are going to projects that ultimately help farmers and ranchers. Producers will increasingly rely on global markets, and we must be sure that we focus our research dollars on projects that help them maintain their competitive edge both here at home and in the global marketplace," said Rep. Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.
At this morning's hearing, Rep. Combest's subcommittee heard from a panel of federal, state, and private-sector witnesses, as the subcommittee examined the role of public and private-sector research initiatives. At a hearing at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow (June 18th) in Room 1300 Longworth House Office Building, the subcommittee will continue to explore the proper role of federal, state, and private research efforts. On July 9th, the subcommittee will examine several private/public research partnerships.
Combest represents Texas' Nineteenth Congressional District, which includes the Panhandle, South Plains, and Permian Basin. Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon, in the U.S. House of Representatives.