Large Turn Out At Hearing to Review Farm Policy in Texas

May 9, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Bob Goodlatte and Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson today convened a field hearing in San Angelo, Texas to review the 2002 Farm Bill. Over 200 local producers, agribusiness leaders, and agriculture officials attended today’s hearing. Twelve Committee Members attended today’s hearing and heard from two panels of witnesses about a variety of farm policy issues including commodity programs, payment limits, conservation, livestock, and marketing issues.

This is the Committee’s sixth field hearing in a series of hearings to gather producer feedback about farm policy in preparation for reauthorizing the 2002 Farm Bill. Today’s hearing marks the halfway point for the Committee as the Chairman and Ranking Member intend to hold roughly a dozen hearings in the field as well as several in Washington, DC before beginning the farm bill debate early next year.

“As the second largest agricultural producing state in the country, Texas agriculture is not only important to Texas producers, but it is also important to all of America. Today, we heard from a variety of producers representing the diversity of Texas agriculture, including livestock, rice, cotton, peanuts, wheat and dairy among a few. We need to ensure producers in Texas, as well as producers throughout the country, are equipped with an adequate safety net so that they can continue to produce the safest, most affordable food and fiber supply in the world,” said Chairman Goodlatte.

“At today’s hearing in Texas, we heard from a diverse group of producers who echoed many of the themes we have heard around the country—we shouldn’t unilaterally disarm by cutting our domestic agriculture programs as trade talks continue and the current farm bill is working well for producers. As we have heard in other hearings, the witnesses in Texas encouraged us to invest in disaster relief, conservation, and bioenergy production, and their common sense ideas reinforce the importance of these hearings,” said Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson.

Texas agricultural production accounts for about 7 percent of the total U.S. agricultural income. Texas ranks first in the nation in the number of cattle and calves and is the top producer of cotton, hay, sheep, wool, goats, mohair and horses. The state’s agriculture sector is the second-largest industry in the state and generates $73 billion a year for the economy.

The hearing was hosted by Members of the Texas delegation on the Committee including Reps. Mike Conaway, Randy Neugebauer, and Henry Cuellar at the C.J. Davidson Conference Center at Angelo State University.

“I want to thank Chairman Goodlatte and my colleagues on the Committee for traveling to West Texas for today’s farm bill field hearing. I am glad that they were able to hear first-hand accounts of how farm policy is affecting producers in Texas. I look forward to working with the Committee to take into consideration what we are learning from producers in Texas as we craft the 2007 Farm Bill,” said Rep. Randy Neugebauer.

“Today’s hearing provided excellent first-hand testimony on how our federal policies are affecting individual businesses in the agriculture industry,” said Rep. Mike Conaway. “I am thankful to the many Texas producers who took the time to come to attend the farm bill hearing. Their insight is greatly appreciated. It is imperative that we listen to the thoughts and concerns of industry experts and producers as Congress draws closer to drafting the 2007 Farm Bill.”

“Today, we heard a clear message from Texas farmers and ranchers: the 2002 Farm Bill works,” said Rep. Henry Cuellar. “Regardless of the crop or region, Texas producers like what they have in current federal farm policy.”

Committee Members included: Chairman Goodlatte, R-VA, Jerry Moran, R-KS, Marilyn Musgrave, R-CO, Randy Neugebauer, R-TX, Mike Conaway, R-TX, Mike Sodrel, R-IN, Ranking Minority Member Collin Peterson, D-MN, Tim Holden, D-PA, Henry Cuellar, D-TX, Charlie Melancon, D-LA, John Salazar, D-CO, and Earl Pomeroy, D-ND.

Testimony from today’s witnesses is available on the Committee website. The full transcript will be available on the website in four to six weeks.

Witness List
Panel I
Mr. Al Spinks, Cotton Producer, Midland, Texas
Mr. Jack Norman, Wheat, Corn, Soybean, Hay and Cattle Producer, Howe, Texas
Mr. Ricky Bearden, Cotton, Peanut, Sorghum and Wheat Producer, Plains, Texas
Mr. Dee Vaughan, Corn, Cotton, Wheat, Soybean and Seed Sorghum Producer, Dumas, Texas
Mr. Dale Artho, Sorghum, Wheat and Cotton Producer, Stocker, Wildorado, Texas
Mr. Daniel Berglund, Rice Producer, Wharton, Texas
Mr. J.C. “James” Overstreet, Peanut Producer, Dilley, Texas

Panel II
Mr. Dale Smith, Cow-Calf Producer, Stocker and Feeder, Amarillo, Texas
Mr. Glen Fisher, Sheep, Meat Goat and Cattle Producer, Sonora, Texas
Mr. Brian Boehning, Dairy Producer, Muleshoe, Texas
Mr. Dale Murden, Sugar Cane, Cotton, Grain Sorghum, Corn, Citrus and Vegetable Producer, Monte Alto, Texas

###

http://agriculture.house.gov

###