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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Jim Baird Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee Hearing: Supply Chain Recovery and Resiliency: Small Producers and Local Agricultural Markets

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and thank you Chair Plaskett for calling this hearing today. I am excited for our Subcommittee to come together for the first official hearing for this Congress. Chair Plaskett – I look forward to developing a fruitful relationship with you as we serve this Subcommittee and the very important role that its jurisdiction – especially biotechnology, research, and extension – plays in the current landscape of the American farm economy; particularly in regard to the sustainability of the industry, the profitability of producers, and the stability of our national food supply.

To members of the Subcommittee – thank you for committing to serve on this panel. I value your leadership and expertise and look forward to serving alongside each of you. 

I find today’s topic to be of particular importance—we are nearing the end of an indiscriminate pandemic that impacted every corner of our lives. The witnesses before us have an important story to tell, and like many of the hearings held thus far this Congress, their stories add to the narrative that we can do better to prepare for future emergencies. I thank our witnesses for their time and participation in today’s discussion; of course I regret that we couldn’t gather in person today, but I appreciate the work you put into preparing your thoughts, and look forward to hearing more about your operations and experiences.

Our nation is home to a varied, yet immensely productive, agricultural industry. On one hand, we have a group of developed, larger farms that play a most critical role in the stability of our food supply chain. These operations leverage the efficiencies gained by economies of scale to provide our nation the cheapest, safest, and most abundant food supply the world has ever known, they bolster national security, and stabilize agricultural markets. On the other hand, we have a group of smaller producers, often passionately serving niche markets or in the beginning phases of their operations working to build markets and equity. Both of these groups represent American farmers. Both represent a crucial component of our nation’s food supply chain and security. Both experience unique challenges that occasionally rely on policy solutions to improve.  

Beginning farmers in the United States face significant challenges in entering production. Those without prior experience, land to inherit, or large sums of capital, are presented with sometimes insurmountable difficulties to begin their operation, let alone to compete once established. These obstacles for small farmers significantly hinder the ability to bring younger generations into agriculture or to diversify our nation’s agricultural production. I also think there is ample room to highlight how the Department can improve their outreach and engagement for those entering into agriculture.

Through today’s discussion, I look forward to hearing more about these producers and how they overcome their myriad challenges, including those set on or aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. I also hope to hear how we as policy makers can better serve small or beginning farmers; what policies need work, where we can start over, how we ultimately can ensure that agriculture remains a highly desired industry.  

As I said, I am excited about our work ahead, and sincerely look forward to today’s testimony. Thank you again Madam Chair for calling this hearing. I yield back.