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.
Committee and Farm Groups Talk Ag Policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Chairman Goodlatte convened the Committee’s 13th hearing to review federal farm policy and gathered testimony from 17 agricultural producer and commodity group representatives. In preparation for reauthorizing the 2002 Farm Bill next year, the Committee and several Subcommittees have held nearly two dozen field and DC-based hearings to gather feedback about current farm policy. The Committee will continue to gather feedback from a variety of organizations and individuals involved in American agriculture throughout the remainder of the year.
In its series of 11 field hearings, the Committee gathered feedback from 116 producers about current and future farm policy. The Chairman asked today’s witnesses to identify priorities for the next farm bill and “discern needs from wants” to aid the Committee in the writing of the farm bill. Chairman Goodlatte cautioned the groups that the environment in which the next farm bill is written would be very different than it was in 2002.
“Today, the budget picture looks dramatically different as does the export and trade environment. Whether or not the actual dollar amount set aside for ag spending next year remains the same as the previous farm bill remains to be seen; however, I assure you that the number of groups expressing interest in this farm bill is growing daily. The result is a larger number of players competing for a slice of the same pie,” said Chairman Goodlatte. “We will have to be creative in how we approach the next farm bill to ensure that all involved in American agriculture are equipped with what they need to be successful. I am committed to writing the best farm bill we can with the resources made available to us.”
The Committee’s field hearing series provided farmers and ranchers an opportunity to weigh-in on farm programs while today’s hearing provided a forum for national commodity and producer groups to discuss their concerns.
“The dialogue at today’s hearing enhanced our understanding of the range of issues that the Committee will need to address in the next farm bill and reinforced the need to move quickly to provide meaningful agriculture disaster assistance,” said Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson.
Today’s witnesses represented a broad cross-section of American agriculture. The witnesses discussed the timing of a trade agreement with the timing of the next farm bill, importance of a farm safety net, conservation issues, and rural development, providing a wide range of recommendations for the Members to consider when compiling the next farm bill.
Chairman Goodlatte called on the witnesses to remain vocal about the importance of farm policy. “The passage of the farm bill requires an act of the entire Congress and must garner the support of a majority of rural, suburban and urban representatives. We do our best to educate our colleagues but we cannot do it alone,” said Chairman Goodlatte. “We need you to consistently voice your concerns to all Members of Congress including those outside of the Agriculture Committee. Your local media and local communities should hear the message as well. We all need to spread the message about the vital role U.S. agriculture plays in the lives of every American and how our policies are designed to meet our needs and ensure our security.”
Testimony from today’s witnesses is available on the Committee website, and a full transcript will be available on the website in four to six weeks.
Mr. Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Tom Buis, President, National Farmers Union, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Allen B. Helms, Jr., Chairman, National Cotton Council, Clarkedale, Arkansas
Mr. Paul T. Combs, Chairman, USA Rice Producers’ Group, Kennett, Missouri
Mr. Dale Schuler, President, National Association of Wheat Growers, Carter, Montana
Mr. Gerald Tumbleson, President, National Corn Growers Association, Sherburn, Minnesota
Mr. John R. Hoffman, 1st Vice President, American Soybean Association, Waterloo, Iowa, on behalf of the American Soybean Association, the National Sunflower Association, and the U.S. Canola Association
Mr. Greg Shelor, President, National Grain Sorghum Producers Association, Minneola, Kansas
Mr. Jim Wysocki, President, National Potato Council, Bandcroft, Wisconsin, on behalf of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance and National Potato Council
Mr. Jack Roney, Director of Economics and Policy Analysis, American Sugar Alliance, Arlington, Virginia
Mr. Mark Kaiser, Board Member, Alabama Peanut Producers Association, Seminole, Alabama, on behalf of the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, the Florida Peanut Producers Association, the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association
Mr. Richard Groven, Vice President, National Barley Growers Association, Northwood, North Dakota
Mr. Jim Evans, Chairman, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, Inc., Genesee, Idaho
Mr. Mike John, President, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Huntsville, Missouri
Ms. Joy Philippi, President, National Pork Producers Council, Bruning, Nebraska
Mr. Ron Truex, President and General Manager, Creighton Brothers, LLC, Atwood, Indiana, on behalf of United Egg Producers
Mr. Paul R. Frischknecht, President, American Sheep Industry Inc., Manti, Utah