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Chair Spanberger Opening Statement at Hearing on Conservation Benefits of Precision Agriculture

Washington, October 22, 2019
Chair Spanberger Opening Statement at Hearing on Conservation Benefits of Precision Agriculture

WASHINGTON- House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry Chair Abigail Spanberger of Virginia delivered the following remarks today at the Subcommittee's hearing on conservation benefits of precision agriculture.

[As Prepared for Delivery] 

"Good Afternoon. I would like to welcome everyone to this Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee hearing on “Realizing the Conservation Benefits of Precision Agriculture.”  I would also like to thank Ranking Member LaMalfa for his engagement on this issue, as well as each Subcommittee member for taking part in the hearing today. 

"I want to welcome one of my constituents, Dustin Madison from Louisa County, Virginia. Dustin, I’m glad that we will have your expertise from farming your own land and serving many other farmers informing our discussion today. Your knowledge from being a Technical Service Provider for NRCS, a certified Virginia Resource Management Planner, and a Certified Crop Advisor will be especially useful, I am sure. It was a real pleasure to visit Louisa County as part of my two-day farm tour in August, and it’s great to have you here today.

"I would also like to welcome our other witnesses, Mr. Don Cameron and Dr. Heather Karsten. Thank you for traveling to DC to share your insight. As technology within the agriculture industry continues to make leaps and bounds, we’re seeing farmers grow more food while more judiciously using inputs such as water and fertilizer. Precision agriculture offers producers opportunities to farm more efficiently and more sustainably.

"Farmers know that growing conditions can vary significantly, even within the same field. These factors range from soil type and chemistry, to fertility and productivity, to the amount of water in the ground. 

"Precision agriculture makes it possible to calculate how these differences translate into different levels of  inputs – so that each part of the field is getting only as much as it needs.

"This means that farmers are saving time, fuel, and money while increasing their output. It’s more efficient and it yields better crops. Precision technology has applications for animal agriculture as well.  It is now possible to monitor feed production, herd health, and energy use on farms to improve efficiency, productivity, and the quality of animal care.

"And central to our hearing today, precision agriculture enables farmers to enhance production and lower their costs, while at the same time delivering environmental benefits.  

"Site-specific crop management translates into less soil erosion and  nutrient runoff. It also improves soil health and water quality, while also providing insight into producers’ environmental footprint and creating opportunities for them to adopt practices that enhance both yields and conservation.

"Today, I’m eager to discuss how farmers are using precision ag technology—what successes are they experiencing and what barriers are impairing their ability to implement precision ag? And how does this impact their productivity, their competitiveness in U.S. and global markets, and their environmental footprint? It’s also my hope that today’s hearing can serve as a launchpad for us to discuss ways we here in the House can help more farmers adopt these tools."

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