Comprehensive Farm Policy Review Continues with Producer Groups

Jul 26, 2000

Comprehensive Farm Policy Review Continues with Producer Groups

Washington, DC — Today, in its fifteenth hearing reviewing all aspects of federal farm policy, the House Committee on Agriculture, convened by Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) heard from representatives of producer groups that face many issues distinct to their industries.

"Agricultural producers of all types face unique and severe operating risks.  Finding ways to help producers manage these risks is one of the chief goals of this Committee," Combest said.  "After passage of legislation improving crop insurance, we now have the opportunity to focus on the economic side of the safety net.  This will ultimately lead us to a farm policy that provides comprehensive risk protection for our nation's producers as they bring quality food and fiber to people worldwide."

Today's panel of witnesses, which included ranchers, beekeepers, fruit, sugar and sheep  growers, represents several sectors of agriculture with a somewhat different perspective than row crop producers.  For them, farm policy involves many different factors, as compared to other witnesses the Committee has hosted.  While all agricultural producers contend with the weather, the groups represented today also face different economic conditions than other producers.

"While European beef producers get 60 percent of their income from the government and producers of sheep meat get 54 percent, US beef producers receive 4 percent and our domestic sheep meat producers receive 13 percent," said Ranking Committee Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX).  "Our farmers and ranchers cannot compete with Europe's treasury, and these disparities simply must be addressed in the next round of WTO trade negotiations."

Over the past six months, the Agriculture Committee has traveled throughout the United States addressing policy issues that affect American farmers and ranchers. In 10 separate field hearings held in California, Idaho, Texas, South Dakota, Illinois, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the Committee heard from 181 producers of various commodities.  In addition, 235 people submitted written testimony that was made part of  the permanent record for these hearings.

"America's farmers and ranchers face many challenges, both today and in the future," Combest said.  "During this series of farm policy hearings, I think we've learned that finding a solution to these challenges won't be a simple task.  However, I believe that no matter how difficult, the Committee has a responsibility to ensure that this nation has a strong, diverse agricultural sector.  Today's hearing is just one more step leading to that goal."