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 Hears From Georgia Producers
VALDOSTA, GA – Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Chairman Jerry Moran today convened a field hearing in Valdosta, Georgia to review federal commodity programs. This is the Subcommittee’s first in a series of hearings to review various aspects of the 2002 Farm Bill which is set to expire in September 2007. Ten Members attended today’s hearing and heard from one panel of witnesses about a variety of farm policy issues including commodity programs, export markets, market access, and crop insurance.
“There are certainly challenges in today’s farming and ranching environment: high input costs due to rising energy costs, more environmental regulation, and natural disasters that have wrecked havoc on crops, livestock, and property. Good farm policy that provides a financial safety net in tough times is essential,” said Chairman Moran.
Agriculture is Georgia’s largest industry, contributing over $5.1 billion annually in cash receipts to the state’s economy. Georgia ranks first in the nation in the production of poultry and eggs and peanuts and ranks second in cotton production. Today’s witnesses represented the diversity of Georgia’s agricultural production including poultry, cotton, peanut, livestock, soybean, wheat, corn, fruit and vegetable producers.
“We want to hear about what’s working and what isn’t working in the current farm bill and what can be improved upon,” said Chairman Moran. “Rarely do we have an occupation in which generations of families work together side by side. We need to understand what types of policies are necessary to allow this way of life to continue.”
At least 160 members of the community attended the hearing including local producers and agribusiness leaders. Committee Members included: Chairman Jerry Moran, R-KS, Randy Neugebauer, R-TX, Mike Conaway, R-TX, Subcommittee Ranking Minority Member Bob Etheridge, D-NC, David Scott, D-GA, Jim Marshall, D-GA, John Barrow, D-GA, and Rick Larsen, D-WA. Reps. Jack Kingston, R-GA, and Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., D-GA, both members of the House Appropriations Committee, participated in the hearing.
“This hearing, and the hearings to follow, allow farmers an opportunity to provide us with their experiences with the 2002 Farm Bill. We are hearing what has worked, what has not, and what farmers believe we should do with the next farm bill,” said Ranking Minority Member Bob Etheridge.
To receive up-to-date schedule and news information from the Committee throughout the farm bill hearing process, please visit the House Committee on Agriculture website to sign up for email updates.
Mr. Donald Chase, Peanut, Corn and Poultry Producer, Oglethorpe, Georgia
Mr. Wavell Robinson, Cotton Producer, Pavo, Georgia
Mr. Bill Brim, Fruit and Vegetable Producer, Tifton, Georgia
Mr. Mike Newberry, Cotton, Corn, Peanut, and Cattle Producer, Arlington, Georgia
Mr. R. Lee Webster, Jr., Cotton, Corn, Soybean, and Wheat Producer, Waynesboro, Georgia
Mr. Ralph Cavender, Onion, Peanut, Corn, and Soybean Producer, Claxton, Georgia