Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Public Hearing: “How Farm Policy Helps Farmers in Adverse Conditions”

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Washington, June 20, 2019 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Chairman thank you for convening this hearing to talk about what is – unfortunately – a very timely topic.

We all know that farming and ranching come with a unique set of challenges and an inordinate amount of risk. It takes a very special person to be willing to borrow six or seven figures from the bank every year – more than many of us will borrow in a lifetime – just to plant a seed in hopes that they will be able to harvest a crop.

These folks are the salt of the earth and they fuel our rural economies. But perhaps most importantly, because our farmers are so productive, they are able to supply Americans with the safest and most affordable supply of food in the world.

While farming has always been a risky business, it sure seems like in recent years, particularly this one, farmers and ranchers really just can’t catch a break. Between successive years of hurricanes, tornados, fires, blizzards, and of course record-breaking floods, no region has been spared. And that’s to say nothing of the economic damage being caused by the illegal retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and others.

As everyone in this room knows, the farm bill is the primary vehicle we use to provide risk management tools to our nation’s farmers and ranchers. I am proud of the work we did in the previous Congress to reauthorize the 2018 Farm Bill without the need for an extension, which would have magnified the uncertainty our farmers face.

We spent months and months working to make several targeted improvements to farm policy. I am proud of the fact that the House prevailed against the Senate’s proposed cuts to the farm safety net.

While the farm safety net is designed to be flexible and tailored to specific circumstances on a farm, catastrophic events over the last couple of years have shown that there is still work to be done. In the interim, Congress recently stepped in with a round of supplemental disaster assistance for those directly impacted by recent catastrophic events.

And, while our farmers and ranchers can compete with anyone in the world, the recent illegal retaliatory tariffs have shown that our producers cannot compete directly against foreign governments. For example, the United States recently won a case at the WTO against China for shelling out $100 billion in a single year to subsidize just 3 crops – a clear violation of the commitments they have made and more than we will spend in more than seven years on ALL of our authorized farm policies for ALL crops.

While the farm bill is designed to help level the playing field, it’s not designed to handle targeted retaliation by a centrally-planned foreign government. As a result, I appreciate that the Administration stepped in to help our producers, and I look forward to the second round of Market Facilitation Program assistance being provided as soon as possible.

In today’s hearing, we have a panel of witnesses that all bring a unique perspective on how recent disasters are impacting producers and how various policies are responding. I hope that today we can tease out how these various tools are addressing the different risks producers are facing while examining where there may be room for continued improvement.

Mr. Chairman, thank you again for convening this hearing. With that, I yield back.
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