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.
Goodlatte Hails Passage of Energy Bill as Good for American Agriculture and Job Creation: Says Senate Needs to Act Now
WASHINGTON, D.C.-Congressman Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee , hailed House passage yesterday of comprehensive National Energy legislation, mark ing the fourth time the House has passed such legislation since 2001, saying this legislation is critical for rural America, job creation and national security.
The legislation includes provisions crucial to the agriculture sector including the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and renewable energy tax provisions.
The RFS will increase over time the contribution of ethanol and biodiesel, a clean-burning alternative fuel made from domestic renewable fuel sources, to our nation's fuel supply, so that by 2012, 5 billion gallons of renewable fuels would be required. The mandate would begin at 3.1 billion gallons in 2005.
It is estimated that the legislation, which would dramatically increase the use of renewable fuels, will reduce the nation's trade deficit by more than $34 billion, increase the GDP by $156 billion by 2012, create more than 214,000 new jobs throughout the entire economy, expand household income by an additional $51.7 billion, increase net farm income nearly $6 billion per year, create $5.3 billion of new investment in renewable fuel production capacity and displace more than 1.6 billion barrels of oil.
Additionally, the legislation extends the production tax credit for alternative fuels to producers of electricity from wind, biomass (including livestock waste nutrients), and methane derived from farm wastes.
"I am pleased with House passage of comprehensive National Energy legislation. It is good for American agriculture and for our rural communities as a whole," Goodlatte said. "This critical legislation will increase the vitality of our rural economies and serve as the underpinning for greater national economic growth."
Additionally this bill has many provisions that allow for more domestic oil and natural gas exploration.
"It is important that Congress continue to find alternatives to our foreign oil dependence and control the ever increasing natural gas prices," Goodlatte continued.
Energy costs account for as much as one fourth of a producer's costs.
Also, natural gas is the key raw material used to produce nitrogen fertilizers and is used on over 80 percent of wheat, corn and cotton acres. Because of high natural gas prices, the U.S. has lost 20 percent of our domestic nitrogen supply since 2000 and we are at risk of losing an additional 25 percent within the next 2 years.
"If this trend continues our farmers will have to rely on an uncertain foreign supply and volatile markets,"Goodlatte concluded. " It is imperative that the Senate finally move this legislation."
The Energy Bill passed the House by a vote of 244-178, and now heads to the Senate.