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Opening Statements

Chairman Thompson Delivers Opening Statement at Hearing on Consequences of EPA's Actions on American Agriculture

Today, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), delivered the following opening remarks at today's full committee hearing on the consequences of EPA's actions on American Agriculture: 

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s hearing to examine the consequences of EPA’s actions on American agriculture.

American farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists—no one cares more for the environment than those whose livelihoods depend on it. They work tirelessly to ensure consumers have the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food and fiber supply in the world.

Agriculture is unlike any other industry, where producers are at the mercy of many uncontrollable factors including extreme weather, natural disasters, pests and diseases, input costs, and geopolitical unrest. What producers should not have to worry about is the Federal government working against them.

Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has compounded this uncertainty with an unworkable regulatory regime that creates even greater costs and ambiguity for our farmers and ranchers.

Because of the concerns this committee has heard from agricultural communities across the country, I was pleased to host a hearing last April with Administrator Regan to talk about the impact the Administration’s actions have on American agriculture. That hearing marked the first time an EPA Administrator appeared before the Committee since 2016.

At that hearing, Administrator Regan repeatedly indicated his willingness to work with farmers and ranchers as his Agency promulgated rules and regulations impacting their livelihoods.

While those statements appeared encouraging, since that hearing, the Agency has announced an onslaught of rules and regulations that contradict these collaborative statements.

Not only is the Agency targeting specific crop protection tools that are important to production, it is also fundamentally changing the pesticide registration and registration review process.

Last summer, the EPA published the draft Vulnerable Species Pilot Program and the draft Herbicide Strategy that will directly impact the ability of producers to utilize these critical tools and will cost billions to comply with. Even this Administration’s own U.S. Department of Agriculture expressed significant concerns with these actions.

The Biden Administration’s attacks on American agriculture do not stop at crop protection tools.

Earlier this year, the EPA published a proposed rule that significantly changes the effluent limitation guidelines for meat and poultry processing.

While Biden’s USDA spends millions to—supposedly—expand meat and poultry processing capacity, his EPA is simultaneously proposing a rule that would shutter processing plants and impose significant compliance costs across industries vital to food affordability.

These two examples of where USDA is directly at odds with the EPA during this Administration are further proof that the left hand does not know what the far-left hand is doing, and illustrates President Biden’s continued, failed leadership.

Further, the EPA has exacerbated the uncertainty surrounding what constitutes “waters of the United States” and is also considering a rule to require reporting of livestock air emissions under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act.

Unfortunately, the EPA’s war on agriculture does not end here. Numerous other actions related to the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and other statutes within EPA’s jurisdiction undermine the ability of producers to effectively manage their operations.

I appreciate the Administrator’s intent to work with the agricultural community; however, something is clearly broken with the current process. There’s a disconnect between the rhetoric of this administration and the impact of their regulatory actions on the ground. This is why I extended an invitation last December for Administrator Regan to reappear before the Committee.

Despite multiple requests since December, the Biden Administration refuses to make Administrator Regan available for requests by the Committee. Staff from the Agency have even said that “for Administrator Regan to appear a second time in fourteen months would be unprecedented.”

I would argue the EPA’s approach to punishing American farmers and ranchers through regulation under this Administration is also unprecedented.

Wrongheaded and often heavy-handed regulations are exactly why producers do not trust the EPA and why I frequently hear it referred to as the Excessive Punishment Agency.

Simply put, the EPA under the Biden Administration does not understand American agriculture or rural America, nor do they understand the consequences of their actions.

I am disappointed in too many of Administrator Regan’s misguided actions during his tenure and am even more disappointed by his failure to timely comply with congressional requests for testimony. We look forward, at the Administrator’s convenience of course, to making his trip down Pennsylvania Avenue to appear before the committee.    

With that said, the testimony of rural America through our esteemed witnesses, some traveling from across the country, cannot wait. And we thank all of you for your time and engagement.

I now yield to the distinguished Ranking Member, Mr. Scott.