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.
Subcommittee Examines USDA's Operations to Ensure Proper Use of Taxpayer Funds
Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184
WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Credit held a public hearing to review recent investigations and audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Inspector General. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was legislatively established in 1978 with the enactment of the Inspector General Act. The act requires the Inspector General to independently and objectively:
- Perform audits and investigations of Department's programs and operations.
- Work with Department's management team in activities that promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness or that prevent and detect fraud and abuse in programs and operations, both within USDA and in non-Federal entities that receive USDA assistance.
- Report OIG activities to the Secretary and the U.S. Congress semiannually as of March 31 and September 30 each year.
Members of the Subcommittee took testimony from USDA's Inspector General and asked questions regarding how effectively and efficiently USDA is delivering its programs to constituents.
"Today's hearing is about good government. The OIG estimates that billions of dollars in improper payments are made each year. It's important to review the OIG's findings to ensure that taxpayer funds are protected from waste, fraud, abuse, and improper payments," said Chairman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).
"Today's hearing with USDA's Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong was very informative. I am confident the USDA will continue to weed out discrimination and advance their efforts to limit fraud and abuse in the SNAP program. However, our conversation revealed holes within the agency that must be fixed. I look forward to future discussions about advancement in oversight," said Ranking Member Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH).
Written testimony provided by the witnesses is available below.
The Honorable Phyllis K. Fong, Inspector General, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Karen Ellis, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Steven Rickrode, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audit, Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.
Mr. Robert Young, Special Assistant to the Inspector General on Recovery Act, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.