Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement after the four principals met today to discuss outstanding issues relating to the farm bill.
Farm Policy Hearings Break Ground in Plains Region
Lubbock, Texas — As soil preparations begin for this year's crop, House Agriculture Committee Members broke ground for the first of ten nationwide field hearings, convening in the southern Great Plains region for producer assessments of the nation's current farm policy.
Testimony from 19 producers of cotton, corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, peanuts, cattle and sheep praised the flexibility of the current farm policy of the "Freedom to Farm" their choice of crops for commodity programs, while voicing their agreement with Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) that those market freedoms also require the government to fulfill its responsibilities to international trade-opening agreements, less costly regulations, and recognition of the tax burdens placed upon producers.
"All of the Members at this hearing today know that we have a problem in agriculture," said Rep. Combest. "Producers expressed a clear desire to find improvements in farm policy, but no desire to abandon what we have. Early-on, producers have yet to find a clear consensus of what they want. Over the next several months of hearings around the country, Ag Committee Members will take in what producers say is needed in farm policy, in the search for a consensus."
"The House Agriculture Committee took a positive, first step in beginning the process that will shape the future of American agriculture policy," said Charlie Stenholm (R-TX), the Committee's Ranking Minority Member. "I commend Chairman Combest for bringing this process to the people by hearing directly from producers on their views of the current farm program. I look forward to continuing this forum with producers around the country in the weeks to come."
Producers may request to testify at the field hearing in their region by mailing a letter about their agricultural qualifications to the Chief Clerk of the House Committee on Agriculture, 1301 Longworth Building, Washington, D.C. 20515. Requests to testify must arrive before 30 days of the scheduled hearing, with the producer's name, address and phone number. The Official Record will also include farm policy plans if they are received by mail within 30 days after each regional hearing, if ten copies of the statements are mailed to the Committee's address in care of the Chief Clerk.
Members of the House Agriculture Committee convene the next producer field hearing in Memphis, Tennessee on Friday, March 17 and on Saturday, March 18 in Auburn, Alabama. The next field hearings are slated for Raleigh, North Carolina on Monday, March 27; West Chester, Ohio on Saturday, April 1; Kutztown, Pennsylvania on Monday, April 3; Sacramento, California on Monday, May 1; Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday, May 2; Boise, Idaho on Friday, May 12; and Peoria, Illinois on Saturday, May 13.
All regional hearings are carried as they occur on the House Agriculture Committee's web site.