Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Chairman K. Michael Conaway General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee: Implementing the Agricultural Act of 2014: Commodity Policy & Crop Insurance

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Washington, DC, March 26, 2015 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing.

As you know, I chaired this subcommittee for a number of years, and I cannot think of a better successor than you.  I know you care deeply about the policies under the jurisdiction of this subcommittee and the farmers and ranchers that these policies are designed to serve.

I mainly want to echo the Chairman’s statement.  Administrator Willis and Administrator Dolcini deserve our thanks for all of the good work that they have done so far.Former Administrator Juan Garcia, a fellow Texan and a friend, is also owed a debt of gratitude for all of his years of distinguished service and for the heavy lifting he did early on to get Farm Bill implementation off on the right track.

There are, as the Chairman said, some issues that still present serious challenges as Farm Bill implementation moves forward.  Fortunately, there is still time to make sure that these little challenges do not have time to become big ones.I fully concur with the three issues the Chairman stressed in his opening remarks and I add a couple of others to the list.

First, as Chairman Emeritus Frank Lucas remarked during an earlier hearing, we need to address the cover crop issue.  If you want producers to plant a cover crop as good stewards of the land, this is one of the most important ways of accomplishing that objective.  It will also help deal with some of the more difficult circumstances facing producers in my part of the country. I recognize that this may involve the agency changing course from some of its past decisions.  But those past decisions were based on a completely decoupled commodity title.  The circumstances have changed some.  The Farm Bill gave you discretion here and I would hope that you would use that discretion to make this happen.  It is the right thing to do.

Second, just as encouraging the use of cover crops is a smart move if you want to promote conservation, so is not sending artificial signals to producers to plant one crop over another, especially when agronomic and market conditions would send the opposite signals.  We face that possibility right now where USDA could assign yields for crops in counties that are, frankly, totally out of whack with reality.  I have discussed this issue at length with USDA and believe you want to do the right thing here. I just want to offer some extra encouragement.  

Thanks again to our witnesses for their good work so far. I hope you will work with us on these and other issues.  With that, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to a productive hearing.

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