11.07.19

Chairman Roberts Hears Update on Farm Bill Rural Development, Energy Program Implementation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing titled, “Implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill: Rural Development and Energy Programs.”

“A principal duty of this Committee is to ensure the Department has the authority and resources to provide our nation’s agricultural producers with the necessary tools to feed a troubled and hungry world. But the responsibilities of the Committee and USDA do not stop there,” said Chairman Roberts. “It is also critical this partnership supports rural businesses, electric cooperatives, telecom providers, schools, health clinics, renewable energy and bio-based product manufacturers, and other essential services providers that serve as the backbone of the rural communities our farmers and ranchers call home.”

“Over the past two years, at our two field hearings in Kansas and Michigan, and at a hearing here in Washington, we had the opportunity to listen to witnesses representing both the Administration and rural communities as they discussed changes to the Farm Bill that would help support rural development.

“We listened, and we acted, by adopting many of these recommendations in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill.”

To watch the hearing and read testimony, click here.

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

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

Today’s hearing advances this committee’s continued oversight of USDA’s implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.

A principal duty of this Committee is to ensure the Department has the authority and resources to provide our nation’s agricultural producers with the necessary tools to feed a troubled and hungry world. But the responsibilities of the Committee and USDA do not stop there.

It is also critical this partnership supports rural businesses, electric cooperatives, telecom providers, schools, health clinics, renewable energy and bio-based product manufacturers, and other essential services providers that serve as the backbone of the rural communities our farmers and ranchers call home.  

Over the past two years, at our two field hearings in Kansas and Michigan, and at a hearing here in Washington, we had the opportunity to listen to witnesses representing both the Administration and rural communities as they discussed changes to the Farm Bill that would help support rural development.

We listened, and we acted, by adopting many of these recommendations in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill.

On our first panel today, we are pleased to have the Administrators for the three agencies within the Office of Rural Development at the Department of Agriculture - the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Housing Service, and the Rural Business-Cooperative Service.

This panel will discuss USDA’s vision for fostering growth and economic prosperity throughout rural America. And, it will highlight the progress made in implementing changes this Committee legislated in the rural development and energy titles of the Farm Bill.

For our second panel of witnesses, we will hear from a broad set of private sector stakeholders, including:

    • the CEO of one of Mississippi’s leading rural electric cooperatives, who works every day to provide essential utility services to farmers, ranchers and small towns;
    • an Iowa farmer who has utilized resources provided by the Department to help build an on-farm anaerobic digester system, and a renewable energy facility;
    • a Kentucky health care provider who has leveraged a USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant to expand service capabilities throughout his state. This provides the most vulnerable populations with access to affordable health care and support in fighting the opioid addiction crisis that is plaguing so many of our rural communities;
    • and finally, the director of Michigan State University Extension who is working with both state and federal stakeholders to find ways to address the mental health challenges that our farmers face every day.

I look forward to our discussion today regarding the Rural Development and Energy titles of the Farm Bill.  These programs play an important role in providing our rural communities with the economic tools they need to grow and thrive.

I now recognize Senator Stabenow for any opening remarks she would like to make.

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