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 Explores Priorities and Recommendations for Farm Bill Conservation Title
Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184
WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a hearing to learn from members of the agriculture community on how conservation programs should be structured in the 2012 Farm Bill. Conservation programs protect soil, water, wildlife, and other natural resources on agricultural land.
Witnesses testified to the importance of conservation programs to assist producers and landowners with voluntary conservation initiatives, while also acknowledging the difficult budget circumstances for reauthorizing Farm Bill programs. Currently, there are more than 20 conservation programs and subprograms that are administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Some of the larger programs include: Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). Witnesses explained that streamlining programs could achieve dual goals of making them more effective and efficient while also providing savings for deficit reduction, but cautioned that heavy funding cuts could undermine critical program functions.
"We heard from a variety of witnesses today who offered their viewpoints on how we should draft the next conservation title. Given the fiscal challenges we face, we know we will have to reduce conservation spending while improving the efficiency of program delivery. Today’s panel provided us with important feedback on how we can achieve these goals while keeping our farms profitable and ensuring a better return on investment for both our nation’s producers and the America taxpayer," said Subcommittee Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA).
"Conservation programs play an important role in preserving our natural resources and provide producers with the necessary tools to meet regulatory requirements. In this budget environment, it is especially important to ensure that current conservation programs are operating as efficiently as possible," said Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN).
Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below. More information regarding the 2012 Farm Bill process can be found here.
Mr. Gene Schmidt, President, National Association of Conservation Districts, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Patrick O’Toole, President, Family Farm Alliance, Washington, D.C.
Mr. David E. Nomsen, Vice President of Government Affairs, Pheasants Forever, Inc. St. Paul, Minnesota
Mr. Garry Niemeyer, President, National Corn Growers Association, Auburn, Illinois
Mr. David Bell, Executive Director, Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, on behalf of Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, Orono, Maine
Mr. Randall C. Gordon, Acting President, National Grain and Feed Association, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Carl Homan, Homan Family Dairy Farms, on behalf of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Centre Hall, Pennsylvania
Ms. Sara Hopper, Agricultural Policy Director, Environmental Defense Fund, Washington, D.C.
Mr. David Petty, cattle producer, Member of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Eldora, Iowa