Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08), Chairman of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit, delivered the following opening remarks at today's full committee hearing entitled, "Producer Perspectives on the 2023 Farm Bill."
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
"The hearing of the General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit subcommittee will come to order. Over the course of today, Members of the subcommittee will hear testimony from producer leaders of 10 national commodity organizations. These witnesses represent a broad segment of American agriculture and know first-hand the challenges facing farmers and rural America.
"Since the 2018 Farm Bill was enacted into law, the agriculture sector has experienced numerous shifts in federal policy outside of our standing Farm Bill programs. This includes trade aid to respond to illegal retaliatory actions by China, a variety of programs enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and numerous iterations of disaster assistance responding to extreme weather events. All told, over $90 billion in ad hoc assistance has been provided over the past 6 years.
"While this assistance was much needed at the time and has allowed many of our farmers to survive economic conditions they might not have otherwise, it is not predictable, reliable, or fiscally responsible to expect such assistance in the future. That is why making improvements to the 2023 Farm Bill is so critical. Farmers need assurance that over the next 5 years, a safety net will be in place that can stand the test of changing markets and extreme weather events.
"Title I programs, specifically the Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage—or ARC and PLC—were established in the 2014 Farm Bill and the reference prices used to determine assistance were set using 2012 cost of production data. Meanwhile, inflation has gone up significantly since 2012, and the price of most inputs have doubled or even tripled since 2021 alone. Farm sector debt is at record high levels, and net farm income is expected to fall 16 percent from 2022 to 2023. These warning signs underscore the importance of our work in the 2023 Farm Bill.
"As the risks and challenges of farming continue to mount, I think it’s safe to say that if you’re not farming today, you’re likely not going to be farming in the future. As we deliberate, we must make sure we’re doing everything we can to help all beginning, young, and small farmers and taking care of future generations.
"One thing I want to point out is that approximately 90% of our nation’s food comes from approximately 12% of our producers. There is no question that food security is national security, and that 12% does considerable work in making sure we have the abundant, affordable food supply that we depend on.
"The testimony we will hear today will shed light on what improvements will be necessary to ensure we get the policy right and can craft a 5-year Farm Bill that meets the needs of producers across the country. I look forward to hearing proposals on how we can ensure the safety net is being appropriately targeted to acres in production and the farmers bearing the financial risks of growing food and fiber to feed and clothe not just the nation, but consumers across the world.
"I want to thank the first panel of witnesses appearing here today and preemptively say thank you to the witnesses appearing on the second panel later this afternoon. Your testimony is a vital part of the information gathering process that will guide our committee in the Farm Bill reauthorization process.
"With that, I will yield to the Ranking Member of the subcommittee, Congresswoman Shontel Brown, for any opening remarks she would like to make."
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