Skip to Content

Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Full Committee Hearing With USDA Secretary Vilsack

Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson (PA-15), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, delivered the following opening remarks at today's full committee hearing to receive testimony from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Good morning, and welcome to today’s hearing to receive testimony from the Secretary of Agriculture. I thank my colleagues for participating and my friend, Secretary Vilsack, for his time. We have a lengthy hearing ahead of us, so I will be brief in my remarks.
For nearly three years, I traveled across the country to hear from farmers, ranchers, foresters, rural communities, and everyday consumers. Their message was clear: they need the government to work for them, not against them.
These men and women have struggled with fractured supply chains, considerable input costs, relentless inflation, natural disasters, volatile markets, and labor shortages, each consistently worsened by ill-conceived, half-baked Executive action.  
In what seemingly is a daily occurrence, taxpayer dollars are being sent to every corner of the country, yet nothing has changed. We are not producing more fertilizer. We are not reducing the cost of production. We are not making food more affordable. However, we are burdening the taxpayer. We are losing ground on the world stage. We are a net agricultural importer.
We are less independent, less resilient, and less competitive.
A farm bill is the best opportunity that exists to course correct.
I have been clear in my intent: Congress can and must craft a bipartisan farm bill that aligns the farm safety net with the needs of producers, expands market access and trade promotion opportunities, strengthens program operations to demand transparency and accountability to the taxpayer, and reinforces not only the importance of helping our neighbors in need, but doing so without indiscriminate expansion of our nutrition safety net.
However, there remains significant headwinds to Congress’ success.
It is virtually impossible to create a robust and resilient farm safety net without significant investment.  Considerable opportunities exist—within our jurisdiction—to not only fund the safety net, but fund a substantial number of shared, bipartisan priorities. I continue to implore my Democrat colleagues to think, in earnest, about those priorities, priorities that can be funded without cutting a SNAP benefit or eliminating the important conservation programs we have all come to appreciate.
Washington, D.C. is filled with rhetoric and armchair pundits. People go out of their way to work against you. Folks think a farm bill is impossible. That politics will prevail over good policy. That the dysfunction surrounding us has consumed us.
Every comment intensifies my commitment to the American farmer: I am on your side. I am your champion. And I will never stop fighting for you.