Congressman Austin Scott Delivers Opening Statement at First Public Meeting for 2013 Farm Bill Conference Committee
WASHINGTON–U.S. Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) today delivered the following opening remarks at the first public meeting for the 2013 Farm Bill conference committee:
Opening Statement of Congressman Austin Scott
House-Senate Conference Committee
H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013
October 30, 2013
(Remarks as Prepared)
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
“It’s an honor to join my colleagues here today as a part of this conference committee. I am confident the work we accomplish over the next few weeks will result in a farm bill that is good for our farmers, good for our agriculture industry and good for the American people.
“As we sit here today and begin our negotiations, cotton, peanuts and other row crops are being picked in Georgia. Our producers and ranchers, who have built their families and livelihoods around a successful agriculture industry, now more than ever need the certainty of a five-year farm bill.
“In a few months, they will begin talking with their banks and securing operating loans. Soon after, they will be turning dirt. Without the certainty of a five-year farm bill, this would all be very difficult, if not impossible for many of our family farmers and producers in my district in Georgia.
“To achieve this, I know we will have to find agreement on many different issues.
“During these discussions, there are a number of specific goals I hope we can achieve together.
“First, as we all know, our country possesses an extremely diverse agriculture industry. No one program can meet the many diverging needs of all sectors. Our producers need a choice of safety nets.
“As my granddad always said, “A farm bill should only be for the bad times, not the good.” Thus, providing producers with a choice of a revenue safety net and a price support program is extremely important.
“Second, I know nutrition programs have been contentious issues throughout our discussions. Our focus should be on changing the culture of these programs, to provide recipients with a lifeline when they need it most while creating greater economic opportunities for individuals to rise beyond these circumstances.
“After serving 14 years in state legislature, I believe nutritional programs can run under greater efficiency if administered by the state. I hope we can set these programs on a path for future state administration.
“Ultimately, these programs should meet the goal of temporary assistance for which they were created while also helping those they serve onto a path of self-sufficiency and earned success.
“Another issue in need of resolution is the current National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Pesticide Permit process. These permitting requirements for pesticide application are a perfect example of duplicative regulation with no public value. The application of such pesticides has already been evaluated by the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
“If these current policies remain in place, U.S. farmers will be required to permit the use of pesticides for such purposes that the EPA has already deemed safe for use.
“With current language provided for NPDES in the House bill, farmers will not be subjected to a duplicative permitting process for pesticides that have previously been approved for use.
“Finally, mandatory country of origin labeling remains at the forefront of World Trade Organization (WTO) cases. This case has the potential to cause significant damage to our agriculture industries.
“Over the past year, WTO has ruled in favor of challenges to MCOOL, which could possibly penalize the U.S. billions of dollars. Resolution of MCOOL is a necessity.
“Without resolution that is WTO compliant, it is only a matter of time before the U.S. meat market is faced with crippling retaliatory tariffs.
“Again, I look forward to working with my colleagues to address these issues, coming to an agreement, and providing farmers and ranchers with certainty for another 5 years.”