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Ranking Member Stabenow Opening Statement at Hearing on Agriculture Research

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry, today released the following opening statement at the hearing titled “Agricultural Research and Securing the United States Food Supply.”

Stabenow’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing. And thank you to our witnesses for providing testimony today.

Mr. Chairman, I want to start by recognizing that this is our last hearing together. While we will deeply miss your leadership, wit, and determination on the dais, you will always be watching over us through your newly unveiled portrait in our Committee hearing room.

From showing you around Michigan to marking up our bipartisan Farm Bill, it’s been an honor to be your partner on this Committee and your friend. Looking back on all we have accomplished together, I know your legacy will live on through the words you’ve written into law and the relationships you’ve built to carry on your work. In recognition of all your dedication and hard work, the Committee presents you with the Chairman’s gavel.

Thank you for your leadership and partnership over the past few years. And know that you’ll be leaving the Committee in good hands. I look forward to working with our friend Senator Boozman in the next Congress.

For our last hearing together, it’s only fitting that we reflect on one of the most impactful issues we have worked on together: agricultural research and the important role it plays in protecting our food supply.

Mr. Chairman, the importance of research to your home state certainly won’t be lost on this Committee, given that we have three Kansans testifying today including former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman. While there’s no shortage of support for agricultural research, for too long, the need for investment has outpaced the funding available.

That’s why we worked together in the 2014 Farm Bill to create the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research. Dollar-for-dollar, it matches public investments with private funds to support every corner of agriculture, from animal disease preparedness, to pest management for fruit growers, to growing techniques for urban farmers.

When we were working on the 2018 Farm Bill, it was a no brainer for us to expand research and the Foundation’s innovative public-private partnerships, which are critical to addressing one of the greatest threats to agriculture: the climate crisis. Today, we’ll hear from General Mills about their partnership with the Foundation to conduct critical climate research and expand regenerative practices for grains in Kansas and dairy in Michigan.

We know that accelerating agricultural research is vital to feeding a growing global population and addressing the climate crisis, which threatens farmers’ livelihoods and our entire food system. From floods, to drought, farmers are already seeing the devastating impacts of extreme weather. In fact, the GAO estimates that climate change will result in crop losses that could cost up to $53 billion annually by the end of the century.

Fortunately, there’s momentum to scale up research that helps our farmers not only adapt, but also be a part of the solution to the climate crisis. Last month, a new coalition of farm and environmental groups led by the American Farm Bureau, National Farmers Union, and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, issued 40 recommendations to address climate change including substantial new funding for agricultural research.

I’m also proud that this committee has recognized climate impacts on agriculture. We were among the first committees to have not one, but two bipartisan climate hearings. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you working with me on this and it will continue to be a top priority for me.

Thank you.