Today, Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, issued the following statement regarding legislation introduced by Senator Hoeven (R-ND) and Senator Stabenow (D-MI) that ties repeal of country of origin labeling (COOL) to both the elimination of existing market driven programs and the establishment of a so-called voluntary country of origin (COOL) labeling program for beef, pork, and chicken. This new voluntary program would operate under similar rules as the program found to violate U.S. international trade rules.
Subcommittee Hears from Arizona Producers
COOLIDGE, AZ – Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Chairman Jerry Moran convened a field hearing Monday evening in Coolidge, Arizona to review federal commodity programs. This was the Subcommittee’s second in a series of hearings to review various aspects of the 2002 Farm Bill which is set to expire in September 2007. Four Agriculture Committee Members attended the hearing and heard from one panel of witnesses about a variety of farm policy issues including livestock programs, cotton, fruit and vegetable production, weather and water issues, land values, and crop insurance.
“There are certainly challenges in today’s farming and ranching environment. This dynamic environment is shaped by high input costs due to rising energy costs, more environmental regulation, and natural disasters that wreck havoc on crops, livestock, and property. Strong farm policy that provides a financial safety net in tough times is essential to our producers,” said Chairman Moran. “The Subcommittee came to Coolidge to gather feedback about our current farm policy and hear the concerns facing producers in this region of the country, and I thank the witnesses for allowing us to do that.”
Agriculture is a $6.3 billion industry for the state of Arizona. With roughly 7,300 farms and ranches throughout the state, Arizona produces a wide variety of commodities from lettuce, cotton, and hay, to beef and dairy products, among many others. Arizona ranks second in the nation in its production of cantaloupe and honeydew melons, head and leaf lettuce, spinach, broccoli and cauliflower.
“American agriculture is extremely diverse, which is why it is so important to hear from farmers in all parts of the country. Congress must ensure that farmers from all areas have the opportunity to testify about their experiences with the current farm bill as we look to begin work on the next farm bill. I appreciate Chairman Moran holding this hearing in Arizona so that the committee may hear firsthand from farmers in the Southwest,” said Subcommittee Ranking Minority Member Bob Etheridge.
At least 60 members of the community attended the hearing including local producers and agribusiness leaders. Committee Members included: Jerry Moran, R-KS, Bob Etheridge, D-NC, G.K. Butterfield, D-NC, and Rick Larsen, D-WA. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-AZ, also attended the Subcommittee hearing.
Witness testimony is available on the Committee website. A full transcript of the hearing will be available on the Committee website 4-6 weeks following the hearing.
Mr. Dennis Palmer, Cotton Producer, Thatcher, Arizona
Mr. Paul Rovey, Dairy Producer, Glendale, Arizona
Mr. Tom Isom, Cotton Producer, Casa Grande, Arizona
Mr. Dave Cook, Cattle Producer, Globe, Arizona
Mr. Bill Brake, Cattle Producer, Scottsdale, Arizona
Mr. Philip Bravo, Livestock Producer on the Haulapai Nation, Peach Springs, Arizona
Mr. Paul Ollerton, Wheat and Cotton Producer, Casa Grande, Arizona
Mr. Nic Helderman, Fruit and Vegetable producer, Eurofresh Farms, Wilcox Arizona