Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Chairman K. Michael Conaway Full Committee Hearing: To review USDA organization and program administration (Part I)

f t # e
Washington, September 15, 2015 | comments
Remarks as prepared for delivery:

This hearing will come to order.

Since this Committee formally organized on January 21 of this year, the Committee has met 44 times.

In keeping with my commitment to hold a top-to-bottom review of a full range of issues and policies within our jurisdiction, we have held 3 executive briefings on trade and conducted 33 hearings. And, stemming from what we have learned in these hearings, we have held 8 business meetings with the purpose of advancing legislation. I am very pleased that this Committee and the full House has faithfully discharged all of the legislation that required action, including addressing every program in our jurisdiction with an expired authorization.

I am very proud of the work that each Member of this Committee has done to make this happen. I am particularly pleased that we have worked together in such a strong, bipartisan manner.

Today and tomorrow, we have before us most of the undersecretaries of the Department of Agriculture. Each of these witnesses is responsible for an important mission area within USDA. Accompanying our witnesses are administrators who manage agencies and programs within these larger mission areas.

These folks make up the network of nearly 100,000 USDA employees who carry out the laws that this Committee works to enact.

We welcome each of you here today. I know that preparing for these hearings can be time consuming for witnesses who already have plenty on their plate. So, please know that your commitment of time and knowledge does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. We do appreciate you and the work that you do.

The primary purpose behind these hearings is to connect the Members of this Committee with the full bench at USDA.

As our witnesses are aware, each Member of this Committee serves on a number of subcommittees that cover issues of special interest to the Member. These interests, of course, line up with the mission areas and agencies administered by our witnesses.

In short, this is a good opportunity for constructive dialogue between Members of this Committee and the Department. It is an opportunity for our Members to gain an even stronger understanding of the policies and issues they focus on by getting under the hood to see how all, or at least more, of the parts work. It is also an opportunity for our witnesses to gain a better understanding of our responsibilities and the issues and policies we care about.

In a sense, it is also about team-building. Whatever our political stripes may be, we have shared responsibilities. And, insofar as it is possible, we ought to carry out these responsibilities cooperatively and amicably. I think this goal is achieved more effectively when the members of a team come to know and respect one another.

So, while our work is always ongoing, I hope that these two days together allow each of us to learn how we might work together more closely and more cooperatively for the good of the order.

With that, I recognize my friend, the Ranking Member, for any remarks he may wish to offer.