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.
Policy Hearings Continue Swing through South
Today, the House Committee on Agriculture convened for the second time in as many days hearing testimony from a total of 37 southern agricultural producers. While there was general agreement among witnesses regarding the need for regulatory and tax relief, their views on improving federal farm policy were as varied as the crops they raise.
Yesterday's hearing in Memphis, Tennessee and today's in Auburn, Alabama were the latest in a series of ten field hearings being conducted throughout America this spring. The goal of these sessions has been to listen to agricultural producers' personal experiences and their suggestions for making federal policies more effective and responsive.
"It's pretty clear that most farmers are continuing to face hard times," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX). "The regions that we've been to share a lot of common experiences, but each of them also has their own distinct perspective on the crisis they face. That's why it's so important to get out into farm country and to listen to actual producers from all over the United States."
"We have now completed three of our ten regional hearings," said Committee Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX). "Clearly, these past years of disaster and low prices have taken their toll on our farm sector across the southern region. As we continue to gather information at the grass roots level, I am encouraged by the various proposals suggested by our producers to strengthen the farm safety net."
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 include 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. Ten copies of the statements for the record should be mailed to the Committee's address in care of the Chief Clerk.
The House Agriculture Committee will convene the next producer field hearing in Raleigh, North Carolina on Monday, March 27. Hearings will then continue in 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.