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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member Neal Dunn - Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Public Hearing: “Economic Opportunities from Local Agricultural Markets”

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Good morning. We meet again as our farmers and ranchers back home continue to face tough times. Whether it’s new pest and disease pressures, shortage in good labor, or a shorter list of reliable crop protection tools; the list goes on. An economy that is booming for so many others is still not providing much-needed relief for many in the agriculture industry. Despite these circumstances, and maybe even due to them, many farmers and ranchers are engaging in innovative strategies to develop new marketing channels to get their products into the hands of the consumer. Today’s hearing is a good opportunity to discuss both the merits and the challenges to the development of local and regional agriculture systems.

The American consumer cares more today about where their food is sourced and how it was produced. Strengthening ties between producers and consumers is a worthy goal especially since the average individual is at least three generations removed from production agriculture. Direct marketing channels are a great opportunity for farmers and ranchers to foster a relationship with their consumer, establishing trust that benefits the industry as a whole.

Local agriculture systems have their challenges. In order to succeed, many farmers and ranchers need to market a larger volume of product than their local market can handle in order to succeed. They may also be located far from the consumer population that is interested in purchasing their product, or they may be growing a commodity that is better suited for further processing by food and industrial manufacturers not located nearby. This challenge also extends to the consumer. If all food were locally sourced, consumers would not have the same access to a wide range of fruits and vegetables year-round, and consumers would also be subject to the wide range of ups and down in prices that result from sourcing from a limited local area.

Despite these challenges, local and regional agriculture systems continue to be one of many opportunities for farmers and ranchers to increase value in their product and satisfy the American consumer. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences with us.

Thank you, Madam Chair. I yield back.