Washington, D.C. — At the first of two hearings this week addressing the crisis facing America's farmers and ranchers, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX), brought representatives from major commodity and producer associations together to review difficulties facing their constituents and hear their suggestions on how Congress can help alleviate the current crisis.
"We have heard a lot of discussion lately on what should be done to help America's farmers and ranchers. In order for this Committee and Congress to provide assistance that really does what it needs to, we must fully understand the scope of the problem facing producers and what measures can best provide a solution. In addition, we need to know the best way to deliver any assistance to the people who need it most," Combest said of today's hearing.
"The economic crisis in farm country has reached emergency proportions and the Committee must respond to the immediate needs of U.S. producers in a timely, cost-effective and targeted manner," said Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX). "It is also time to revisit U.S. agriculture policy so that our producers won't have to wait on Congress to react each and every time problems arise as a result of weather or price."
American farmers and ranchers are in the second year of the worst farm crisis in recent memory. Throughout the course of this year, the Committee has sought to be an open forum and active advocate on behalf of America's farmers and ranchers. While it has held a number of hearings and passed several pieces of legislation of great importance to the future of agriculture, Combest today said that standing alone, these measures are not enough.
"Recently, we reported out a bill to strengthen crop insurance and provide better risk management tools for farmers and ranchers," Combest said. "However, all these things are meaningless unless we do something now to help get farmers into the next year…and that is why we are here today."
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman will testify before the Committee tomorrow. At today's hearing, Combest expressed his hope that the Secretary would take this opportunity to present a concrete proposal from the Administration which has been conspicuously absent from the farm crisis discussion.
"I hope to learn tomorrow why it's been more than 5 months since we first began discussing this matter and we still haven't seen any kind of proposal from the Administration to provide much needed assistance to farmers and ranchers," Combest said.