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 Kicks Off DC Farm Bill Hearings with Focus on Rural Development Programs
Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184
WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Timothy V. Johnson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture, held a hearing to review U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rural development programs in advance of writing the 2012 Farm Bill. This is the first of eight hearings, which will be held by the Subcommittees to hear from agricultural stakeholders before the House Agriculture Committee begins drafting the reauthorization of agricultural programs.
Witnesses at today's hearing provided feedback on the programs administered by USDA's Rural Development agency, which includes the Rural Business and Cooperative Service (RBS), the Rural Housing Service (RHS), and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Members heard from two panels of witnesses who explained how programs can be improved to increase their effectiveness. Further, witnesses testified that continued investments in water, energy, and broadband infrastructure are vital for enhancing the quality of life and economic opportunities for individuals living and working in rural communities.
"Getting our debt under control will take shared sacrifice. Every single component of federal spending needs to be examined for efficiencies and savings. As the Committee considers how to reauthorize current programs in the next Farm Bill, it's important to seek ways to weed out activities and authorities that are either redundant or ineffective. In doing so, these programs would be made more accessible to applicants, reduce USDA's administrative burden, and focus program resources on core responsibilities," said Chairman Timothy V. Johnson (R-IL).
"Over 50 million people call rural America home, and if we truly want to build a 21st century economy, they must be part of the solution. Rural communities rely on the rural development programs to provide and modernize services and facilities. As we move forward with the 2012 Farm Bill, we are trying to target and leverage funds where they can be most effective," said Ranking Member Jim Costa (D-CA).
Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below. More information regarding the 2012 Farm Bill process can be found here.
The Honorable Charles F. Conner, President and CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Washington, D.C.
The Honorable Donald Larson, Commissioner, Brookings County, South Dakota; on behalf of the National Association of Counties.
Ms. Leanne Mazer, Executive Director, Tri-County Council for Western Maryland, Frostburg, Maryland; on behalf of the National Association of Development Organizations.
Mr. Frank Dunmire, Executive Director, Illinois Rural Water Association, Taylorville, Illinois; on behalf of the National Rural Water Association.
Mr. Robert Stewart, Executive Director, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Washington, D.C.
Mr. David Rozzelle, Executive Vice President, Suddenlink Communications, St. Louis, Missouri; on behalf of the National Cable Telecommunications Association.
Mr. Mark Bahnson, CEO & General Manager, Bloomingdale Communications, Bloomingdale, Michigan; on behalf of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association.