Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member Neal Dunn - Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Public Hearing: “To Review Implementation of USDA Farm Bill Research Programs”

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Washington, October 17, 2019 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery: 


Thank you, Madam Chair. Good morning and welcome, Dr. Hutchins. Thank you for your service and for spending some of your time with us today. I look forward to your testimony and for the chance to hear an update on your progress implementing the 2018 Farm Bill. 

Those of us representing rural areas know that times are still tough for agricultural producers. Farmers and ranchers face unbelievable risk from devastating weather events to market uncertainty and everything in between. It is times like this that truly underscore the importance of having a strong agricultural research infrastructure. We crafted the 2018 Farm Bill with this in mind. While we faced significant budget pressures, I am proud the Research Title was an area that saw an increase in funding and several positive updates to key programs that our producers rely upon. 

Of particular importance to my state of Florida, the Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program was reauthorized and funded, continuing our commitment to fight the citrus greening disease that is still devastating the Florida industry and threatening Texas and California producers. 

I also am proud that we secured important priorities for land grant universities including a new program to fund long deferred maintenance projects and language streamlining onerous reporting requirements. 

The farm bill reauthorized the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network, reestablishing an important program that will direct behavioral health resources to our farmers and ranchers in need.

Finally, I am proud that the farm bill adopts several provisions to continue to provide resources and level the playing field for 1890 land grant universities. 

Dr. Hutchins, I am also interested in hearing an update on the relocation of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Economic Research Service (ERS). As you know, we had a hearing on that subject just before you announced the Secretary’s selection of Kansas City. The work done by these two agencies is important to the future success of the agricultural industry, and as such, I am sure you will keep this committee informed on any developments.

It is unfortunate that we still see an effort to derail the Secretary’s decision. I’m afraid Presidential politics continue to bleed into (what should be) bipartisan issues. I look forward to working with you to help fulfill USDA’s research mission and will do my part to ensure you have the resources needed to be successful. 

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