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Peterson Statement at the House Agriculture Committee Business Meeting to Consider the Letter on Budget Views and Estimates

Washington, DC, February 27, 2019

We’re here today to consider the Committee’s budget views and estimates for fiscal year 2020 as required by the Congressional Budget Act and in compliance with House Rules.

[as prepared for delivery]

We’re here today to consider the Committee’s budget views and estimates for fiscal year 2020 as required by the Congressional Budget Act and in compliance with House Rules.

It’s no surprise the priorities laid out in this letter line up with the priorities of the 2018 Farm Bill. USDA is ramping up the process of implementation—which we’ll hear about later this morning—and our funding priorities focus on putting those programs we designed to help farmers, rural communities and working families into place as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The 2018 farm bill is a fiscally responsible bill we are proud to say will help the people it’s supposed to. It spends no new money. We streamlined some programs and found administrative efficiencies in others. As the economy improves, the price tag on the SNAP program decreases. We created new programs to help struggling dairy farmers. We invested in the next generation of farmers and ranchers, including farmers of color and returning veterans. We legalized industrial hemp and boosted support for local and organic foods. We invested in animal health measures, rural broadband expansion and tools to combat opioid addiction in rural communities.

The result is an overwhelmingly bipartisan success. 369 members of the House voted for the Farm Bill. That’s far, far more than have voted for any farm bill in history, and I hope it makes clear to all who are listening that these are priorities with strong support among both parties, across growing regions and crops, and in communities big and small nationwide. It’s also my hope such a bipartisan vote will set the tone for what we do here. Our work on this Committee is going to be bipartisan. Our challenges demand it.

Among the largest of those challenges is what confronts our farmers and ranchers right now. The situation for producers I fear will get worse before it gets better. Between the already-strong economic headwinds, unreliable trade policy, tighter access to credit, unpredictable markets and volatile weather, it is imperative we work together to address these issues in a way that earns the confidence of farmers and ranchers, and continues to responsibly steward taxpayer dollars.
And with that I recognize the distinguished ranking member from Texas for any remarks he would like to make.

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