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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member Neal Dunn - Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Public Hearing: “Reviewing the State of Organic Agriculture - Producer Perspectives”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Madam Chair. We again meet today against a backdrop of tough times in agriculture. Whether it is sustained flooding, early winter storms, or continued market uncertainty, agricultural producers face unbelievable risk. And for organic farmers, ranchers, and dairymen, that risk is no different.

That is one of the reasons I am proud that we were able to complete the 2018 Farm Bill last year. I am proud that it was a historic piece of legislation for the organic sector. We enacted language to address fraudulent imports, including a robust import certification program, providing the National Organic Program with access to cross-border documentation systems administered by other federal agencies, and providing the program with additional oversight of certifying agents operating in foreign countries. The farm bill also provided a significant increase in funding to the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative. Finally, I am glad that we were able to secure report language urging USDA and the National Organic Standards Board to adhere to the best science and technical assistance available when making recommendations.

In July, this Subcommittee received an update from USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach on the National Organic Program and USDA’s status implementing the 2018 Farm Bill. The organic industry can trust they have allies in both Under Secretary Ibach and Deputy Administrator Jenny Tucker—they are doing a great job.

At that hearing, I described several challenges that I believe threaten the legitimacy of the organic program, and frankly, the industry as a whole. One that I will again highlight is some segments of the organic industry who think it wise to disparage non-organic production practices. The National Organic Program has proven to be a great marketing tool for the agricultural economy, but it isn’t the only tool. There are several ways that American farmers successfully differentiate their products to meet consumer demands. Furthermore, many organic producers also farm using conventional practices. We recognize that organic production is an important tool that farmers use to earn a premium for their product, and I know that they, like all farmers, are proud of that product.

Finally, I would like to thank each of our witnesses for taking the time to be here today. Please know that the time spent both preparing for and travelling to today’s hearing, and being away from your families and businesses, is not lost on us. We greatly appreciate your commitment to the agriculture industry by providing this committee with timely information to help us do our jobs. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you, Madam Chair, and I yield back.