Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member Doug LaMalfa Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry Public Hearing: “Managing for Soil Health: Securing the Conservation and Economic Benefits of Healthy Soils”

f t # e
Washington, June 25, 2019 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning.

Thank you to Chair Spanberger for holding today’s subcommittee hearing on soil health. This is a critically important issue to American agriculture and strong farming communities.

Congress has long recognized the importance of promoting soil health across the country, starting with the establishment of the Soil Conservation Service as a permanent part of USDA in 1935.

The need for this agency was in response to a persistent problem of soil erosion across the country, particularly in the Dust Bowl region. The Natural Resources Conservation Service, as it is known today, plays an important role in preserving soil health across the country by providing producers with voluntary assistance in monitoring and assessing soil conditions on their land.

As our predecessors did for us in the past, we owe it to future generations to do what we can to understand and recognize the importance of healthy soil.

To that end, I am particularly proud of this committee’s work on conservation programs in the newly enacted farm bill. We came together in a bipartisan fashion to reauthorize and strengthen our Title II programs.

The issue of soil health was continuously highlighted by producers and stakeholders during 2018 Farm Bill deliberations and I believe that is reflected in many of the improvements to the conservation program authorities.

We heard directly from farmers who expressed the need for more tools to promote the adoption of cover cropping. This request was the leading influence in the creation of Conservation Innovation Payments under EQIP, allowing for a simplified contract for producers to adopt and maintain new conservation practices. 

Additionally, the final conference agreement adopted soil health as a priority for the Conservation Stewardship Program. And soil health will be a major component of the newly created On-farm Conservation Innovation Trials.

I am proud that so many of the farmers and foresters in California have taken voluntary steps to promote soil health. We have one of those early adopters here today to talk about the conservation efforts that she and her family have implemented on their family farm.  

Mrs. Shannon Douglass operates a specialty crop and beef cattle operation with her husband and son in Glenn County, CA. Mrs. Douglass also operates CalAgJobs, a company that matches folks into jobs in the agriculture industry. She is here today representing the California Farm Bureau Federation, and  serves as First Vice President.

Mrs. Douglass, thank you for making time to be here today.

Whether it’s protecting our water supply, keeping nutrients in place for the next crop year, or maintaining a supply of forage for livestock, there is no shortage of reasons as to why we must continue to foster innovation when it comes to promoting soil health. 

We have a great set of witnesses testifying today, and I want to thank them for traveling here to share their expertise with the subcommittee. 
f t # e