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 on Specialty Crops, Rural Development, and Foreign Agriculture Forwards Farm Bill Recommendations to House Agriculture Committee
WASHINGTON - Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Specialty Crops, Rural Development, and Foreign Agriculture approved proposals for the Farm Bill sections under its jurisdiction. Congressman Mike McIntyre of North Carolina is the Chairman of the Subcommittee.
The Subcommittee approved by voice vote discussion drafts outlining the Rural Development title as well as the peanut and sugar programs. The Subcommittee also adopted three amendments by voice vote. Copies of the discussion draft, a section-by-section analysis of the provisions, and amendments approved by the Subcommittee are all available online at the Committee's Farm Bill Homepage. A brief summary of the titles considered and amendments adopted is included below.
“The Subcommittee held a productive and thoughtful discussion about some important topics that will be a part of the 2007 Farm Bill,” said Chairman McIntyre. “The work of this Subcommittee will ensure the delivery of essential rural development programs that will strengthen our nation’s rural communities and will support important programs for peanuts and sugar.”
“A strong sugar program in the Farm Bill translates into food security for Americans and a positive future for Colorado-grown sugar,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado. “I am pleased that the subcommittee approved and forwarded the sugar program to the full House Agriculture Committee, without weakening amendments. America’s no-cost sugar program has served us well, and I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of Colorado sugarbeet producers.”
Rural Development: The discussion draft approved by the Subcommittee reauthorizes U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development programs that facilitate the financing of essential infrastructure, including public water and waste disposal systems. It also establishes grant and loan programs for rural healthcare facilities and entrepreneur and microenterprise assistance. The draft changes program eligibility requirements to improve access to broadband telecommunications services in rural areas, and would also establish a National Center for Rural Telecommunications Assessment.
- Chairman McIntyre Amendment on criteria to be applied in considering applications for rural development projects
- Congressman John Salazar Amendment on comprehensive rural broadband strategy
- Congressman John Barrow Amendment on technology transfer for rural areas.
Peanuts: The discussion draft reauthorizes the peanut program, extending the direct payment, counter-cyclical payment, and marketing loan provisions contained in the 2002 Farm Bill. The draft increases the loan rate from $355 per ton to $375 per ton and lowers payment acres from 85 percent of base acres to 74 percent. It also extends the planting flexibility provision of the 2002 bill.
Sugar: The current sugar program would be extended until 2012, including the non-recourse loan program and the authority for marketing allotments. The draft requires that the Secretary of Agriculture continue to operate the program at no cost to the Federal government by avoiding forfeitures of sugar.
All Subcommittee and full Committee markups will be broadcast live on the House Agriculture Committee's website.