Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Chairman K. Michael Conaway Committee on Agriculture Markup: Budget Views & Estimates Letter

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Washington, February 27, 2018 | comments
Remarks as prepared for delivery:

We have one heck of a task before us this year, and that is getting a farm bill done—and done on time.

Given the state of the ag economy, it can’t come soon enough for producers. With a 52 percent drop in net farm income over the past 5 years, and USDA predicting another drop in farm income to the lowest level in 12 years, the American farmer and rancher is at serious risk.

In spite of these tough times in farm country, our 2014 Farm Bill is on target to save taxpayers north of $100 billion over 10 years—more than four times what was pledged. The bottom line is that to pass a farm bill that meaningfully addresses the need in farm country and delivers safe, affordable food to the American consumer—we will need the help of our colleagues to produce a budget that reflects the tough times facing rural America. That is why we are renewing our request to write a budget-neutral farm bill.

Like previous budgets, the administration put forward a proposal. And, like other budget proposals, some ideas make more of a splash than others—that is all part of the process. Our job is to evaluate all options and determine what is the best policy.

I recognize there is a lot of interest in the farm bill and that folks are eager to see a draft. I’ve often pointed out that there are a number of things outside of our control. We’ve had the added challenge of working through 39 programs without baseline and countless requests for additional funding—it has been quite the balancing act to write a budget-neutral bill that works for all producers and consumers. With respect to the things we can control, we are still on track to move a bill through our committee by the end of the first quarter.

I expect to work with Collin to brief committee members and plan to release a draft soon. Like previous farm bills, we will follow regular order through a robust and open amendment process that will ultimately let the committee work its will. But for that to happen, we need the flexibility to move a budget-neutral bill, and today we renew that request with our fiscal year 2019 budget views and estimates letter.

With that, I recognize the Ranking Member for any remarks he may make.
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