Opening Statement: Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson Subcommittees on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management and Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Joint Public Hearing: “To Review the Implementation of Federal Farm and Disaster Programs”
Washington, September 19, 2019
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Chairmen Vela and Costa, thank you for holding this important hearing regarding implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill provisions and disaster assistance and thank you to Undersecretary Northey for attending and providing an update on the status of these important policies.
As those of us representing rural America know firsthand, times are tough in farm country. Over the past few years it seems like there isn’t a single region of the country that is immune from Mother Nature’s devastation. And not only are producers having to grapple with extreme weather, they are also being buffeted by bad markets and an ever-changing landscape for global trade, not to mention the policy uncertainty coming out of Washington, like these reports about Democratic Leadership trying to block CCC replenishment.
This is why it was so important to get the 2018 Farm Bill completed without the threat of extensions, which would only have exacerbated the challenges facing farmers and ranchers. I am very pleased with the timely roll out from USDA of the key farm bill programs, despite having numerous other policies to implement, which I am sure we will hear about more today.
House Republicans were able to make some key targeted improvements to the farm safety net which should not be overlooked. And do not forget, in conference we were having to negotiate against a Senate bill that would have CUT $700 million out of the baseline for these critical programs. Talk about kicking farmers when they are down.
It is unconscionable to me that people would be advocating for the erosion of the safety net at a time when producers are looking for any lifeline available to keep their family farms in business. I am proud that we were able to hold the line and produce a conference report that provides improvements to all Title I programs, to the benefit of all crops and regions of the country.
One additional area where Congress could act now to ease the concerns of the agriculture community would be to swiftly approve the U.S. - Mexico - Canada Agreement (USMCA), which made key improvements to NAFTA, and is expected to provide $2.2 billion in additional exports for our producers, particularly for dairy, the main commodity produced in my district.
Beyond the access that it provides, USMCA also sends a signal to other trading partners currently in talks with USTR, that the United States has the wherewithal to follow through on commitments made, which will lead to other opportunities to expand trade, just like what we saw with the agreement in principle reached with Japan. Congress must approve USMCA now, failure to do so will erode relationships between our negotiating partners, not just for this Administration, but for all future Administrations as well.
Thank you again for holding this joint hearing, I look forward to hearing from Undersecretary Northey about the actions USDA is taking to aid our farmers and ranchers.