Ranking Member Stabenow Opening Statement at Hearing to Consider CFTC Nominee

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 nomination hearing to consider Heath Tarbert to be Chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

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

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It is good to be with you this morning to consider the nomination to this important position at the CFTC.

Mr. Tarbert, congratulations, and welcome to you and your family.

The CFTC plays a critical role in providing certainty in our futures and swaps markets for Main Street businesses, consumers, and our farmers and ranchers.

Everyone in this room understands that agriculture is a risky business. That’s why this committee wrote and passed a strong bipartisan Farm Bill that gives our farmers five years of certainty in uncertain times and why strong oversight at the CFTC is so important.

But before we begin discussing the future of the CFTC, I must comment on the President’s budget. I was disappointed to see that the proposal would roll back many of the important investments we made in the future of our agricultural economy.

The budget includes a nearly 31% cut to the Farm Bill, on top of a 15% cut to the rest of USDA. We must ensure that the USDA has the resources it needs to fully implement the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill quickly. This is not the time to put a target on our farmers and families.

I also strongly support providing the CFTC with the funding it needs to protect our financial markets. The CFTC has been underfunded for many years, which puts our financial system at risk.

In addition to robust funding, the CFTC also needs strong leadership.

Mr. Tarbert, you have a great deal of expertise in financial markets. You also have first-hand experience in the development of the Dodd-Frank Act. I would like to hear more about how you would continue the significant progress that the CFTC has made over the past 9 years in implementing that historic law.

The CFTC must continue to prioritize strong customer protections, and it must remain vigilant in bringing wrongdoers to justice through its enforcement program.

The CFTC must bring certainty to its rulebook by finalizing the Dodd-Frank rules that remain incomplete, like setting speculative position limits and establishing minimum capital requirements for swap dealers.

And the CFTC must continue to be forward-looking to address emerging risks, such as cybersecurity and automated trading.

A decade has passed since the Great Recession. We must never forget that over 8 million jobs were lost, and countless families, farmers and small businesses faced foreclosure and financial ruin. The CFTC needs leadership that is committed to moving forward – not backward – on the critical reforms enacted in 2010 to safeguard our markets and protect customers.

Mr. Tarbert, I am also encouraged that you have shown a strong interest in addressing issues facing our agricultural economy. I look forward to hearing more about your plans and vision today.