Opening Statement of Chairman Lucas at Business Meeting to Consider the Budget Views and Estimates Letter of the Committee on Agriculture for the Agencies and Programs Under Its Jurisdiction for FY13

Mar 7, 2012

Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184

Good morning, and thank you all for joining us to consider the budget views and estimates letter for fiscal year 2013.

Before we begin, I’d like to thank Ranking Member Peterson for all the help he has provided on this issue.

For the past year, this Committee has worked to identify areas for potential deficit reduction while also seeking ways to stimulate job creation. We will continue that work in 2012, primarily through the reauthorization of the Farm Bill. We looked for potential savings in the eleven audits we held during 2011. We sought areas of duplication and ways to streamline farm policy.

That helped us when we were tasked with proposing cuts to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. We worked together in a bipartisan and bicameral fashion to propose $23 billion in savings. Because the Super Committee failed to provide recommendations, we’re starting again at square one. But that doesn’t mean we’ll ignore what we’ve learned along the way.

For instance, we’ve heard loud and clear that crop insurance must be a focus in the next Farm Bill. Producers across the country have told us that it is the cornerstone of their risk management efforts. While we will work to improve program efficiency, we will ensure that crop insurance remains available to help producers respond to risks beyond their control.

We’ve also found consensus around the necessity of simplifying conservation programs. I know how important these voluntary incentives are to producers. We will work to ensure that the Farm Bill has more efficient conservation programs that help our producers as they work to preserve our natural resources.

Ultimately, our goal is to craft fiscally responsible policy that helps farmers and ranchers across the country thrive.

We will also continue our work to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens on job-creators. That includes environmental, agricultural, and labor regulations that hinder production, as well as financial regulations that impose undue requirements on Main Street businesses. Our businesses can’t create jobs when their hands are tied by red tape.

The year ahead won’t be easy. We have been tasked with accomplishing a great deal with limited resources. I look forward to continued hearings and input from Members to achieve the most fiscally responsible Farm Bill. Every title and policy area will be examined to ensure greater efficiencies, avoid duplication, and streamline wherever necessary.

With that, I’ll yield to the Ranking Member for any comments he may have.