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 Hears From Colorado Producers
GREELEY, CO – House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson Monday, May 8, convened a field hearing in Greeley, Colorado to review the 2002 Farm Bill. Ten members of the Committee attended yesterday’s hearing and heard from two panels of witnesses about a variety of farm policy issues including commodity programs, farm economy, land prices, rural development, and conservation. This was the Committee’s fifth field hearing in a series of hearings to gather feedback about farm policy from producers throughout the country in preparation for reauthorizing the 2002 Farm Bill.
The Chairman also announced the launch of a web-based feedback form on the Committee’s website to ensure that producers throughout the country have the opportunity to provide input about farm policy. The form is accessible on the Committee’s website.
“We’ve had the opportunity to hear from a wide variety of producers through our field hearings and this information is helpful to the Committee as we prepare to consider the farm bill reauthorization next year. We also understand that there are many other producers that we haven’t heard from and this feedback form will hopefully garner feedback from broad range of producers. This gives us the opportunity to hear from a greater number of our producers,” said Chairman Goodlatte.
“We have all heard that farming is mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you are 1000 miles from the farm. The farm bill hearings, like Monday’s hearing in Greeley, help us understand the reality facing farmers around the country. The producers we heard from today in Colorado offered new perspectives and new ideas that will help us as we begin to write a practical, farmer-friendly farm bill,” said Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson.
The agriculture sector in Colorado contributes nearly $16 billion annually to the state’s economy.
Approximately 75.5 percent of the state’s $5.5 billion in agricultural cash receipts are attributed to livestock. With 2.5 million head of cattle in the state, cattle and calves comprises Colorado’s number one agricultural commodity.
The hearing was hosted by Members of the Colorado delegation including Reps. Marilyn Musgrave and John Salazar at the Island Grove Parks 4-H Center.
“As Congress begins the process of re-authorizing the Farm Bill, local hearings like this are vital to make sure we set the right policies. I am pleased the Chairman and committee members came to Colorado to hear from producers from Colorado who play a critical role in commodities such as beef, wheat, corn and sugar beats,” said Rep. Marilyn Musgrave.
“In order to create a Farm Bill that helps keep farmers and ranchers on the land, while guaranteeing a safe and affordable food supply, we need to hear directly from producers. It’s important for the Committee to hear from rural Coloradoans and consider the nature of agriculture in the Mountain West – unlike the South – producers here deal with irrigated farm land, public land issues with livestock, and program crops like alfalfa and oilseeds. Being one of the handful of active farmers in Congress, its important for me to meet with other farmers and then help communicate to my colleagues the real impact changes to the Farm Bill can have on the livelihood of an entire rural community,” said Rep. John Salazar.
At least 100 members of the community attended the hearing including local producers, agribusiness leaders, and agriculture officials. Committee Members included: Chairman Goodlatte, R-VA, Jerry Moran, R-KS, Marilyn Musgrave, R-CO, Mike Conaway, R-TX, Mike Sodrel, R-IN, Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson, D-MN, Tim Holden, D-PA, Charlie Melancon, D-LA, and John Salazar, D-CO.
Testimony from Monday’s witnesses is available on the Committee website. The full transcript will be available on the website in four to six weeks.
Mr. Dusty Tallman, Wheat Producer, Brandon, Colorado
Mr. Jeff Deeds, Wheat, Corn, Sunflower, Pinto Bean, Soybean, and Grain Sorghum Producer, Goodland, Kansas
Ms. Vickie I. Ford, Potato, Barley and Canola Producer, Center, Colorado
Mr. Tim Hume, Corn and Sunflower Producer, Walsh, Colorado
Mr. Alan Welp, Sugarbeet, Corn, Pinto Bean, Wheat, Cattle and Alfalfa Producer, Wray, Colorado
Mr. Tom Compton, Cattle Producer, Hesperus, Colorado
Mr. John Bartmann, Sheep Producer, Greeley, Colorado
Mr. Lester Hardesty, Dairy Producer, Greeley, Colorado
Mr. Mark Frasier, Cattle Producer, Fort Morgan, Colorado