WASHINGTON — The House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management recently held a hearing on the growing financial pressures faced by U.S. farmers and ranchers.
Conditions in farm country today contrast sharply with those during the formulation of the 2014 Farm Bill. While high prices for many farm commodities led to tremendous growth in net farm income through 2013, many of those prices have spiraled downward over the past three years. Witnesses spoke broadly about the factors that are driving current market conditions, the bleak outlook going forward, and the impact that both are having and could continue to have on our nation’s farmers and ranchers going forward. They also spoke to the vital role that farm policy and crop insurance are playing in helping absorb some of the shock, and they stressed the devastating impact that further reductions to these vital tools could have.
“When America was going through the Great Recession, agriculture was one of the bright spots in the economy. It provided jobs, a trade surplus, and security for our nation. Now, as the overall economy continues to recover, the farm economy has been turned on its head. In fact, net farm income has dropped 56 percent over the past three years alone. While many producers are struggling just to hang on, some in Washington continue to advocate for gutting the farm safety net. Those same folks refuse to acknowledge that the 2014 Farm Bill was written for times just like these and that we would be spending considerably more were it not for the reforms included in the 2014 Farm Bill. Now is not the time to pull the rug out from under our nation’s hard working farm and ranch families,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford (AR-01).
“Today’s hearing was the first in a series the Agriculture Committee will be holding to focus on growing financial stress in farm country. With low commodity prices, high input costs, and no relief in sight, the farm safety net is proving vital to helping our nation’s farmers and ranchers weather growing economic uncertainty. Today’s hearing was also a reminder that farm policy critics live in a fantasy land where markets are fully functioning, foreign countries play by the rules, and the weather always cooperates. Unfortunately, our farmers and ranchers must operate in the real world, and it is in our nation’s best interest to continue providing them with the risk management tools they need to continue feeding and clothing our nation. I look forward to further exploring this topic with the rest of our subcommittees,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11).
Written testimony provided by the witnesses from today’s hearing is linked below. Click here for more information, including Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford’s opening statement and the archived webcast.
Mr. Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, DC
Mr. Roger Johnson, President, National Farmers Union, Washington, DC
Dr. Rob Johansson, Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC
Dr. Joe Outlaw, Professor and Extension Economist, Co-Director, Agricultural and Food Policy Center, Department of Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
—House Agriculture Committee
Reprinted from Morning Ag Clips