02.28.19

Chairman Roberts Hears Farm Bill Implementation Update from Secretary Perdue

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 featuring U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue titled, “Implementing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.”

“Secretary Perdue is no stranger to the Committee. In fact, as we successfully worked in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to craft the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, USDA was an important part of the process. Over the last two years, the Department offered valuable technical advice throughout the drafting and conference stages,” said Chairman Roberts.

“When the 2018 Farm Bill was signed by the President last December, it accomplished what we set out to do – provide certainty and predictability for farmers, families, and rural communities.

“Now, we look forward to hearing about the Department’s efforts to implement the new Farm Bill. We will work together to ensure that these programs are operating as Congress intended and that changes are implemented as promptly as possible.”

The Senate and House Agriculture Committees produced a bipartisan, bicameral Farm Bill, and President Trump signed the legislation into law on December 20, 2018. Click here to read more about the Farm Bill.

Click here to watch Chairman Roberts' opening statement. Below are Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

I call this hearing of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to order.

This is our first hearing of the 116th Congress. This morning, I’d like to welcome Senator Braun to the Committee. We are glad to add his firsthand experience managing timberland and working with a turkey operation.

I’d also like to welcome Senator Durbin to the Agriculture Committee this Congress. 

Today, we are pleased to welcome Secretary Sonny Perdue back to the Agriculture Committee.

Secretary Perdue is no stranger to the Committee. In fact, as we successfully worked in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to craft the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, USDA was an important part of the process. Over the last two years, the Department offered valuable technical advice throughout the drafting and conference stages. 

When the 2018 Farm Bill was signed by the President last December, it accomplished what we set out to do – provide certainty and predictability for farmers, families, and rural communities. 

Now, we look forward to hearing about the Department’s efforts to implement the new Farm Bill. We will work together to ensure that these programs are operating as Congress intended and that changes are implemented as promptly as possible.

Throughout the Farm Bill process, we consistently heard about the challenges producers have been facing in farm country. And right now, producers in Kansas, and across the country, continue to face this rough patch.

Over the past five years, prices for many of our major commodities have dropped significantly.  As a result, net farm income is expected to decline by approximately 50 percent.

The ongoing pressure of low commodity prices continues the need for a high volume of sales. Now more than ever, producers need certainty and predictability on the trade front, on the policy front, and on the regulatory front.

The 2018 Farm Bill provides much needed certainty and predictability to farmers and ranchers across all regions and all crops – as promised.

The bill provides additional resources and risk management tools for producers. It makes improvements to the Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage programs, while providing a new election and future opportunities to change those decisions.

Importantly, producers maintain the ability to plant for the marketplace, not the government. 

And, this Farm Bill strengthens and improves the crop insurance program, something we heard loud and clear from producers throughout our listening process.

We maintained and strengthened the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and other core voluntary conservation programs that farmers and ranchers use to improve their productivity and address natural resource concerns.

The bill also focuses on program integrity and commonsense investments to strengthen our nutrition programs to ensure the long-term success of those in need of assistance. 

With trade and market uncertainty, it provides predictability and additional funding for our trade promotion and export programs.

Additionally, the bill provides investments in research, new technology, lines of credit, and proper risk management. It empowers the government to provide tools, and then get out of the producer’s way.

Finally, the Farm Bill provides regulatory certainty and assists livestock producers facing the threat of animal disease.

In summary, the Ag Committees were successful in reaching bipartisan, bicameral agreement on a strong Farm Bill in a timely manner.

And, we look forward to working with USDA to ensure that implementation provides much needed certainty and predictability in farm country.

I now turn to my colleague, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, for her opening remarks.   

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