Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member Neal Dunn Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Public Hearing: “Increasing Resiliency, Mitigating Risk: Examining the Research and Extension Needs of Producers”

f t # e
Washington, June 12, 2019 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Chair Plaskett.

Farmers and ranchers are some of the most resilient people that I know, and thanks to our nation’s agricultural research and extension system, they remain at the forefront of innovation and productivity. As we look forward, there are consistently new threats developing and producers will need new tools in order to adapt to changing conditions.

Congress recognized that need all the way back in 1862 with the passage of the Morrill Act which created the land-grant university system. Since then, Congress has provided additional investments in American agricultural research and extension, most recently with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. The livelihoods of farmers, ranchers and consumers continues to depend on innovation, and today’s challenges are no different.

We have seen devastating examples of weather impacting farmers’ ability to even put seed into the ground. In the last two years, Florida producers and foresters saw devastating losses from hurricanes and the citrus industry has been nearly wiped out by citrus greening disease. We are seeing more subtle, yet perhaps even more consequential threats developing including stronger pest and disease pressures that will undoubtedly have an impact on food production and availability.

Climate policies like the Green New Deal have consumed the headlines this Congress, often blaming the agriculture sector as the problem. I could not disagree more. I wholeheartedly believe that innovation in American agriculture must be part of the solution. We know that U.S. agriculture uses a tiny percentage of the energy consumed in the U.S., but the changes proposed in the Green New Deal would have significant implications for the ability of U.S. agriculture to continue to meet the demand for fresh, safe and affordable food, both in the U.S. and around the world.

In contrast, Congress chose a better solution by passing the 2018 Farm Bill, which is arguably the greenest farm bill ever. In addition to significant investment in research, Farm Bill programs protect farm and forest lands and assist producers in voluntary practices that sequester carbon, reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, preserve farmland, and improve the energy efficiency of farming practices while still providing America with abundant and affordable food and fiber.

I would also like to applaud President Trump for his leadership on this important issue. With the signing of yesterday’s agricultural biotechnology executive order, this administration is now on a path to eliminating unnecessary regulatory hurdles while creating opportunity for additional investment into some of these innovative tools we will discuss today. Secretary Perdue is ahead of the curve with his proposed rule released last week to modernize USDA’s biotechnology regulations. I look forward to watching the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration follow USDA’s lead.

I would like to thank each witness for taking the time to have this important dialogue with us, and I look forward to a productive discussion.

f t # e