Opening Statement: Republican Leader Austin Scott General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee Hearing: “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Economic Perspectives on Title I Commodities and Title XI Crop Insurance”
Washington, June 9, 2022
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chair Bustos and thank you to the four esteemed economists that are joining us today to share their perspectives on the state of the agricultural economy and the performance of the farm safety net and risk management tools in the farm bill.
We all know that those involved in production agriculture are accustomed to risk, but between weather, global events, skyrocketing inflation, and regulatory uncertainty, farmers and ranchers today are struggling to make sound business decisions in the face of extreme uncertainty. The provisions we established in the 2018 Farm Bill were meant to help farmers manage some of that risk. Today I am looking forward to hearing from our witnesses about how those policies are working.
All Americans are dealing with the impacts of high and rising inflation, but I would argue that the sector of the economy most vulnerable to these impacts are our farmers and ranchers. As JFK said, they “buy everything at retail, sell it at wholesale, and pay the freight both ways.” Fortunately, many ag commodities are fetching high prices, but the cost of inputs continues to skyrocket, transportation is getting more expensive, and labor is increasingly hard to find and afford. Any softening of crop prices could spell calamity for the rural economy if production costs don’t get under control.
Therefore, I am extremely frustrated with the Biden Administration’s tone-deaf responses to this crisis. From a senior official suggesting that the remedy for high gas prices is for more Americans to drive electric vehicles, or USDA’s most recent announcement in which they seek to “Transform the Food System” one rooftop garden at a time, this Administration has clearly shown their lack of regard for the full-time farmers and ranchers that produce our food.
There are certainly many factors that contribute to skyrocketing production costs, but it is undeniable that many of these wounds are self-inflicted by the current political leadership. The price of farm diesel is up 107% since Joe Biden took office, yet the Administration continues to wage a war on oil and gas producers. Crop protection tools that farmers rely on are under assault from left wing enviro activists, yet the Solicitor General filed a brief in the 9th circuit that fundamentally undermines EPA’s preemptive authority over crop protection tools. The list goes on and on.
I am very interested in the testimony of our witnesses today. Particularly how it relates to the impact inflation and production costs will have on farmers and ranchers and if our current safety net is adequate. But instead of only looking for solutions via more federal assistance, this subcommittee also needs to pay attention to policies and actions that increase the cost of growing food and work to remedy that.
Thank you, Madam Chair for convening this hearing and thank you to the witnesses before us today. I yield back.