WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing, titled, “Commodities, Credit, and Crop Insurance: Perspectives on Risk Management Tools and Trends for the 2018 Farm Bill.”
In what was the Senate Agriculture Committee’s largest Farm Bill hearing in the 115th Congress, the Committee heard from agriculture producers, general farm organizations, crop insurance professionals, as well as agriculture lenders on what is working and what needs to be changed in the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization.
“This year, I’ve met with agriculture producers from across the country,” said Chairman Roberts. “Those conversations have demonstrated that all of agriculture is struggling with low prices, not just one or two commodities or regions.”
“While they work every day to feed and clothe us, America’s farmers and ranchers are at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to the weather on their farms. The High Plains are in the middle of damaging drought, while areas in the South are still drying out from flooding and tropical storms.”
“When producers put seeds in the ground, they do not expect a hail storm to hit right as they are ready to harvest their crops. They would much rather reap the benefits of their hard work in the marketplace than receive an indemnity. The last Farm bill made significant changes, and unlike previous policies, today’s commodity programs—like crop insurance—are triggered only when there is a loss.”
This marks the seventh hearing in preparation for the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization.
To provide input for the Senate Agriculture Committee’s consideration for the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization, click here. The link will be active for five business days after the hearing.
Click here to watch Chairman Roberts' opening statement. Below are Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery:
Good morning. I call this meeting of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to order.
I have repeatedly said we must listen to our farmers and ranchers first, and that is exactly what this Committee is continuing to do as of today.
Whether Senator Stabenow and I were wearing purple or green at the Farm Bill field hearings in our home states, we have been listening to key stakeholders, including producers and those who make their livelihoods in rural communities.
By the end of this morning, this Committee will have held hearings related to eight of the Farm Bill titles.
I know that several senators, both on and off the Committee, have also been gathering input and ideas from their states for the Farm Bill.
So far this year, I have joined agriculture round tables and farm visits with Senator Daines in Montana and Senator Strange in Alabama.
The conversations at these visits have demonstrated that all of agriculture is struggling with low prices, not just one or two commodities or regions.
This morning, we are focusing our attention on risk management tools and the needs of producers from across the country.
Up first are two panels of men and women who participate in the Department’s programs administered by the Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency.
These producers have given up valuable time to provide real examples of why the Farm Bill is important to their operations and to so many others.
They will provide updates from their perspective on what is working with the current Farm Bill and what can be improved in the commodity, credit, and crop insurance programs at the Department.
Our third panel includes general farm organizations, crop insurance professionals, and the lending community who work to provide producers with the tools necessary to finance their agricultural operations.
I know I speak for all members of the Committee by saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ for being here today and for your continued commitment on behalf of our farmers, ranchers, and growers.
These are the folks who are feeding a troubled and hungry world. I am truly humbled by the work you do for our country and our rural communities.
While they work every day to feed and clothe us, America’s farmers and ranchers are at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to the weather on their farms.
The High Plains are in the middle of damaging drought, while areas in the South are still drying out from flooding and tropical storms.
When producers put their seeds in the ground, they do not expect a hail storm to hit right as they are ready to harvest their crops. They would much rather reap the benefits of their hard work in the marketplace, rather than receive an indemnity.
The last Farm bill made significant changes, and unlike previous policies, today’s commodity programs—like crop insurance—are triggered only when there is a loss.
Given the current state of the farm economy and credit challenges facing many producers, especially young and beginning farmers, it is essential we also examine the FSA direct and guaranteed loan programs to determine if improvements can be made.
As we review the risk management and credit programs and consider changes, the reality is we face budget constraints and limited resources for the Farm Bill.
While much of our focus has been on the economic conditions in rural America and reduced farm income, we cannot ignore the cost side of producers’ balance sheets. And, we should look for ways to ease those burdens.
But, during these tough economic times, I’d remind my colleagues that we can promote stability and economic growth in our rural areas through a Farm Bill.
Adequate risk management tools and regulatory reform provide much needed certainty to producers.
The Committee must do our work in a timely and transparent manner. Today is an important step in that process. We need to continue working together to get a Farm Bill done. Our farmers, ranchers, growers, rural communities, and others that enjoy safe and affordable food are depending upon us.
Our witnesses have traveled from their farms and businesses as far as Montana and the State of Washington. They represent a broad cross section of production agriculture.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses, and I now recognize the distinguished member from Michigan for any remarks she may have.