Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to examine the benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America.
Committee Hears from Ag Processors and Suppliers
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Chairman Bob Goodlatte convened the Committee’s first Washington, DC-based hearing to examine federal farm policy in preparation for reauthorizing the 2002 Farm Bill. In July, the Committee completed its series of 11 field hearings to gather feedback and comments from producers about current and future farm policy. Yesterday, the Committee heard from two panels of witnesses representing a variety of national agricultural processor and supplier organizations.
“There are many factors that influence agriculture from weather to trade agreements to government regulations and input costs. American agriculture is a dynamic sector that is constantly changing and evolving,” said Chairman Bob Goodlatte. “Our farm policy needs to accommodate for these changes and the evolution of our agriculture sector. The feedback we gather from those working within agriculture will help us determine what issues need to be addressed and how to go about addressing them.”
The Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, commonly referred to as the 2002 Farm Bill, is set to expire on September 30, 2007. The Committee will continue to gather feedback from a variety of organizations and individuals involved in the production of American agriculture throughout the remainder of the year. The Committee will likely begin the process of writing the next farm bill in early 2007. The Chairman noted that the environment in which the next farm bill is be written will likely be very different than the environment in which the 2002 Farm Bill was written.
“We must be realistic in our planning and anticipate the likelihood that agricultural spending will not grow but may remain the same or decrease from the 2002 levels. In addition, we need to recognize that the number of groups with a vested interest in those agriculture spending dollars is increasing daily,” said Chairman Goodlatte. “The result is that the pie, whether it is the same size as 2002 or a bit smaller, will have to be divided up between a larger number of players. This means that 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 continue their operations.”
Several of the processor and supplier witnesses raised concerns about the role of crops in the nation’s energy policy and the potential ramifications that increased demand for biofuels could have on conservation programs as well as the price and production of some commodities.
On Wednesday, September 20 at 10 a.m., the Committee will convene another hearing to review federal farm policy and will hear from witnesses representing producer and commodity groups. A list of witnesses will be made available 24 hours in advance of the hearing. Testimony from Wednesday’s witnesses is available on the Committee website, and the full transcript will be available on the website in four to six weeks.
Mr. Robert Frazee, Chairman of the Board, North American Equipment Dealers Association, Cazenovia, New York
Mr. Dennis L. Craig, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, W B Johnston Grain Company, Enid, Oklahoma, on behalf of the Agricultural Retailers Association
Mr. Jay Vroom, President and CEO, CropLife America, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Alex McGregor, President, The McGregor Company, Colfax, Washington, on behalf of The Fertilizer Institute
Ms. Audrae Erickson, President, Corn Refiners Association, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Mike Malecha, Senior Vice President, US Bioenergy, Inver Grove, Minnesota, on behalf of the National Grain and Feed Association
Mr. Rick L. Schwein, Grain Millers, Inc., Eden Prairie, Minnesota, on behalf of the North American Millers Association
Ms. Sharon Clark, Vice President, Transportation, Grain, and Oilseed Division, Perdue Farms Incorporated, Salisbury, Maryland, on behalf of the Alliance for Agricultural Growth and Competitiveness
Mr. Paul Palmby, COO, Seneca Food Corporation, Janesville, Wisconsin, on behalf of the Canned-Frozen Food and Growers Coalition
Mr. Fred Hensler, Commercial Director, Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, New Jersey, on behalf of the Sweetener Users Association