Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member K. Michael Conaway - Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Public Hearing: “Safeguarding American Agriculture from Wild, Invasive, and Non-Native Species”

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Washington, November 14, 2019 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

 

Thank you, Chairman Costa and Ranking Member Rouzer.

I would like to touch on one of the more devastating examples of an invasive species that is currently affecting Texas and much of the country—feral swine.

Farmers, ranchers, and landowners have been dealing with the destruction caused by wild pigs for decades. Most estimate that feral swine cause over $1.5 billion in damages each year with at least $800 million of that amount attributed directly to agriculture. But the problem is growing so much that it’s not just affecting those in rural areas—in 2017 the Dallas City Council authorized a three-year service contract for the control and abatement of feral hogs on city property.

Feral swine are capable of breeding at just six months and have a gestation period of about 115 days. They reproduce at such a high rate that you would have to remove two-thirds of the feral swine population every year to just keep the total population stable. These hogs can be vectors for several diseases including foot and mouth disease and African swine fever. Feral swine have also had an unbelievable impact on native species and ecosystems. According to USDA feral swine have played a role in the decline of nearly 300 native plants and animals in the U.S. alone.

I am proud that in the 2018 Farm Bill, we established the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program, directing APHIS and NRCS to coordinate the removal of feral swine, restore habitat, and provide assistance to producers for feral swine control. We funded the program at $75 million and in June, USDA announced funding availability for projects in nine states, including Texas.

I am glad we are holding this hearing to review the impacts of invasive species on American agriculture. Thank you to all witnesses for being here today and for sharing your perspectives. I look forward to your testimony.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.

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