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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Austin Scott General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee Hearing: A Hearing to Review the Efficacy of the Farm Safety Net

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Chairwoman Bustos, thank you for holding this hearing to evaluate the importance of the farm safety net.

After the experiences of the last several years in the Southeast, this hearing is vital now more than ever as we enter hurricane season and the threat it poses to farmers as well as countless other risks our producers across the country face.

Not only has the pandemic disrupted the markets for farmers, but we are entering a dangerous time as drought risk increases, wildfires become more prominent, and damaging hurricanes are more frequent.

Put simply, the farm safety net has been put to the test.

The panel before us today will be able to give a “boots on the ground” perspective as we look toward necessary changes in the 2023 Farm Bill.

The challenges producers face aren’t limited to commodity prices and hurricanes.  

Rural America continues to suffer as energy prices, agricultural inputs, and feed prices rise, making it more difficult to remain profitable.

Moreover, I am concerned about the hazard of rising inflation and how it might impact the farm economy.

We must maintain a stable and reliable safety net for these farmers, in the event of natural disasters or a crippled economy for agriculture.

Not only do uncontrollable occurrences threaten the industry, but often times the American farmer is having to compete with foreign treasuries.

Perhaps the worst actor on this front is China.

Within the past decade alone, actions by the Chinese government have wreaked havoc on markets for cotton, sorghum, rice, wheat, corn, and of course, soybeans.

But China isn’t only a threat at the farm gate.

There is also concern about Chinese ownership of input suppliers and food processors.

Food security is national security and though it may not be under the purview of this subcommittee, all of us should be aware of their actions and the risks they pose.

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael was a catastrophic blow to the farm operations and the livelihoods of many across the South East.

While my colleagues like Chairman Scott, Congressman Bishop, and I helped with the passage of disaster assistance and the creation of the WHIP program to assist with lost income and facilities, this program has been a nightmare to implement and for many farmers it came up short in providing critical, timely relief.

This committee should take on a larger role in crafting policy, so tomorrow’s disasters leave less of an impact on our producers and create less risk for our food supply chain. 

Without a doubt, it is difficult to find a silver bullet to remedy all of the problems facing our agriculture industry.

The industry contains many moving parts with each affecting the other.

I am prepared to work in a bipartisan effort with my fellow members for the success and safety of the American farmer.

As we review the effectiveness of the safety net and begin to consider future changes, our primary objective must be to do no harm to the existing programs and make sure any enhancements are to the benefit of all of production agriculture, not just certain regions of the country or specific causes of loss.

Thank you again Chairwoman Bustos for holding this hearing, and I look forward to listening to each of the testimonies this afternoon.