Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Public Hearing: “Reviewing the State of the Farm Economy”

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Washington, May 9, 2019 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this important hearing to highlight the state of the farm economy. It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that we were in the midst of the Great Recession, but the agricultural economy was booming.

Unfortunately, as those involved in agriculture know all too well, markets are cyclical and Mother Nature is unpredictable. Now, the rest of the economy is booming, but for our farmers, prices have fallen lower, and have stayed there longer than anyone could have predicted. To add insult to injury, over the past couple of years, almost every region of the country has seen its share of widespread devastation from natural disasters, including hurricanes, floods, fires, drought and even volcanic eruptions, just to name a few.

It was against this backdrop—and in the face of extraordinary budget challenges—that we wrote the 2018 Farm Bill. One of those challenges came in the form of our friends in the United States Senate who proposed to spend $700 MILLION less on the farm safety net than proposed by the House. I am proud of the work House Republicans did to finalize a conference report that not only protected the farm safety net but actually made improvements to farm policy.

Despite these successes, the current recession in the agricultural economy is a sobering reminder that farm policy, while incredibly helpful, does not make our farmers and ranchers whole. In talking to many folks in my district, there are a lot of farmers who are either already getting out of the business or are one bad crop away from being forced to call it quits.

While there are many factors plaguing our producers that are well outside of Congress’ control, there are some things we could do now that might provide a modicum of relief. For example, our friends in the Southeast who were impacted by hurricanes or other disasters in 2018—including one of our witnesses here today—anxiously await a sign that assistance might be on the horizon. Congress needs to quickly act to reach a compromise to help address the devastating losses so many experienced last year.

Also, this Congress needs to ratify USMCA—the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement—which would provide some certainty for our farmers that our neighbors to the north and south will remain the two largest customers of our agricultural products. It is now up to Speaker Pelosi to allow ratification to move forward. Time is of the essence.

Finally, I want to say a sincere thank you to the witnesses who are here today. I know this is a busy time back home for you all, but it is invaluable for members of this subcommittee to be able to hear your perspectives as we consider policies that directly impact you.

Mr. Chairman, I look forward to working with you this Congress as we use this subcommittee to highlight the issues that are of vital importance to farmers and ranchers across the country. Thank you again for convening this hearing. With that, I yield back.
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