Today, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement regarding legislation introduced by Senator Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Stabenow (D-MI) that ties repeal of country of origin labeling (COOL) to both the elimination of existing market driven programs and the establishment of a so-called voluntary country of origin (COOL) labeling program for beef, pork, and chicken. This new voluntary program would operate under similar rules as the program found to violate U.S. international trade rules.
Committee Completes Farm Policy Field Hearing Tour in Boise, Peoria
This week, the House Agriculture Committee, led by Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX), completed the final two farm policy field hearings in a series of ten. With the two most recent hearings in Boise, Idaho and Peoria, Illinois, the Agriculture Committee has visited every region in the United States and heard the views of 181 producers who testified before the panels.
"During this series, we've heard from hundreds of producers from all over America. With so many different experiences and differing perspectives we didn't find a clear consensus on how we should change federal farm policy," said Combest. "Still, I believe that American producers know we're listening to them and that we have their confidence in pursuing policies meant to ensure their future prosperity."
While there was disagreement among producers regarding a number of policy issues, witnesses did consistently cite the increased cost of regulations, unfair foreign trade practices, and low prices as some of the obstacles American farmers and ranchers need to overcome.
"After ten field hearings, with producers from all over America, I've become even more convinced of our need to expand trade by changing some of our own policies, including lifting unilateral sanctions on food and medicine," said Ranking Committee Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX). "I've also heard useful comments about the need for some level of counter-cyclical support to protect our farmers when free markets fail."
"The producers we've heard from at these field hearings have confirmed what we already knew — that we have a lot of work to do to strengthen the farm safety net," said Chairman Combest (R-TX). "While every grower and every commodity has special circumstances, it's clear that families across America are struggling just to stay afloat."