Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to examine the benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America.
Opening Statement of Chairman Lucas at Field Hearing on the Future of U.S. Farm Policy: Formulation of the 2012 Farm Bill in Galesburg, IL
Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184
Good morning, and thank you all for joining us today for this Farm Bill field hearing. I’d also like to thank Congressman Schilling for hosting this hearing here in Illinois.
These field hearings are a continuation of what my good friend and Ranking Member Collin Peterson started in the spring of 2010. Today, we’ll build upon the information we gathered in those hearings, as well as the 11 farm policy audits we conducted this past summer.
We used those audits as an opportunity to thoroughly evaluate farm programs to identify areas where we could improve efficiency.
The field hearings serve a slightly different purpose. Today, we’re here to listen.
I talk to producers all the time back in Oklahoma. I see them in the feed store and I meet them at my town hall meetings. And of course, I get regular updates from my boss back on our ranch. But the conditions and crops in Oklahoma are different than what you’ll find here in Illinois.
One of the reasons we hold field hearings is to get a sense of the diversity of agriculture across this great country.
Let me tell you—in some ways, Illinois and my home state of Oklahoma couldn’t be more different. Back home, we don’t measure our soil in feet and our rain in inches like you do here.
The broad range of agricultural production makes our country strong, but it also creates challenges when we’re trying to write a single Farm Bill to support so many different regions and commodities.
While each sector has unique concerns when it comes to farm policy, I’d like to share some of my general goals for the next Farm Bill.
First and foremost, I want to give producers the tools to help you do what you do best, and that is to produce the safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply in the world.
To do this we must develop a farm bill that works for all regions and all commodities. We have repeatedly heard that a one-size-fits-all program will not work. I can tell you from experience that what works here in Illinois won’t work as well for my constituents in Oklahoma.
So the Commodity Title must give producers options so that they can choose the program that works best for them.
I am also committed to providing a strong crop insurance program. The Committee has heard loud and clear about the importance of crop insurance and we believe it is the cornerstone of the safety net.
Lastly, we’ll work to ensure that producers can continue using conservation programs to protect our natural resources.
I’m interested to hear how producers in this area of the country use the conservation programs. I’m particularly curious as to your thoughts on how to simplify that process so they are easier for our farmers and ranchers to use.
Beyond those priorities, I know there are a number of universal concerns facing agriculture across the country.
For instance, my producers in Oklahoma are worried about regulations coming down from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and how they must comply with those regulations.
I’m also aware that the death tax is creating difficulties for farming operations. I want to hear how these federal policies are affecting producers here.
Today, we’ll be hearing from a selection of producers. Unfortunately, we just don’t have time to hear from everybody who would like to share their perspective. But we have a place on our website where you can submit those comments in writing.
You can visit agriculture.house.gov/farmbill to find that form. You can also find that address on the postcards available on the table here.
As I said before, we don’t have an easy road ahead of us. But I’m confident that by working together, we can craft a Farm Bill that continues to support the success story that is American agriculture.