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.
House Ag Committee Adopts Budget Letter
WASHINGTON - Today, the House Committee on Agriculture adopted the budget views and estimates letter which outlines the Committee's budget recommendations for the federal agencies and programs under its jurisdiction, outlining the funding issues at the forefront of the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization. The letter will be submitted to Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina pursuant to section 301(d) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and House Rule X, clause 4(f).
"Our action today represents an early step on our road to the development of the 2007 Farm Bill," Chairman Collin Peterson said. "Because the budget resolution will, in effect, determine the amount of funding we will have to write the farm bill, its shape and form will have a crucial impact on our work. Our proposed views and estimates letter sends these messages: the 2002 Farm Bill is fiscally responsible. It is popular in farm country. And it is serving to enhance the well-being of our farmers, ranchers, needy citizens, and consumers."
"We urge the Budget Committee to carefully consider the budget views and estimates letter we are submitting and not solely base their decision on projected baselines. We're asking that they not turn their backs on America's farmers and ranchers and provide the Agriculture Committee with the funds needed to address the wide variety of issues facing Rural America," said Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte.
The letter to Budget Chairman Spratt shares the views of the Agriculture Committee following the series of field hearings held by the committee last year to meet with farmers and ranchers across America, as well as processors and consumers, about current farm policies and where they can be improved. Chairman Peterson and Ranking Member Goodlatte previously testified before the Budget Committee on February 14, 2007, about the positive feedback they received from the field hearings.
This year's Farm Bill debate will include new proposals that will require additional resources from the Budget Committee, including a strong energy title, essential to facilitate investments in the expanding agriculturally-based renewable energy market, including ethanol and biodiesel. The letter also states that the committee likely will consider proposals that may affect budget allocations in the areas of specialty crops, conservation, food stamps and the Milk Income Loss Contract program.
A copy of the budget and estimates letter is available on the committee website. Each member of the committee will have an opportunity to submit additional views before the letter is filed on Monday, March 5.