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Chairman Costa Opening Statement at Hearing on the State of the Livestock and Poultry Economy

Washington, July 16, 2019

WASHINGTON (July 16, 2019) – House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman Jim Costa of California delivered the following remarks at Tuesday’s hearing on the state of the livestock and poultry economy.

[As Prepared for Delivery]

“Good Morning and welcome to today’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture on the state of the livestock and poultry economy.

“Livestock and poultry producers have big impacts on rural economies. In my district alone, sales of livestock, poultry, and related products added up to over 2 billion dollars a year. Nationwide, that number is nearly 200 billion dollars annually.

“Today’s hearing builds on the previous work of this subcommittee, including a hearing we had two months ago with USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach on our ability to prevent and respond to animal pests and diseases, including the implementation of a new suite of animal health programs that was enacted as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Effective administration of animal pest and disease prevention, mitigation, and eradication is crucial, especially now as threats of Virulent Newcastle Disease, Cattle Fever Ticks, and African Swine Fever threaten farmers and ranchers across the country.

“It’s hard to talk about the state of the livestock and poultry economies without talking about trade. Access to foreign markets and fluctuations in foreign demand continue to be a major concern as livestock and poultry farmers need export markets. The Administration’s tariff-first attitude hasn’t been helping and longstanding issues for poultry access into places like China need to be addressed. 

“We also know you need access to workable immigration system. For all the rhetoric and emotion that surrounds the immigration debate, livestock and poultry producers know that they depend on a reliable, year-round labor workforce to keep both farms and packing plants running smoothly.

“Other issues including federal meat inspection, food safety, meat and poultry labeling, access to new technologies, and Packers and Stockyards Act functions are all major issues of concern before this subcommittee. 

“Today’s hearing is just one more step in an ongoing conversation on these important issues. The new Farm Bill requires USDA to complete several studies that will provide Congress with necessary information on important issues including an analysis of a possible Livestock Dealer Trust and effectiveness of Food Safety Inspection Service outreach to small livestock processors. That information is going to help guide our work on these important issues moving forward. We look forward to getting these studies back on time and discussing their results with you.

“And as Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting expires in 2020, this subcommittee is interested in learning farmer priorities in advance of reauthorization. Thank you all for being here today and I look forward to your testimony.”
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