Ranking Member David Scott Opening Statement at Hearing “Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture”

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott delivered the following statement at today’s hearing “Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture.”

[As prepared for delivery]
I would like to begin my comments by Congratulating Chairman Thompson as we start the 118th Congress and by stating how proud I am of the bipartisan work this Committee did last Congress to lay the groundwork for the 2023 Farm Bill.

We brought in Agriculture Secretary Vilsack to discuss the state of the farm economy in January of 2022 and followed that with 19 farm bill review hearings with stakeholders and other Administration officials.

We also held 5 listening sessions across the country where we got input from farmers and consumers about how farm bill programs were working for them.

In addition, we have an online feedback form which is still open and can be accessed on the House Agriculture Committee’s website, both Democratic and Republican.

Through those hearings, we have been able to get constant and regular updates on what’s happening on the ground and the needs of our farmers, ranchers and foresters.

And, what we must do to make sure we get the farm bill right for all producers across the country and to ensure we are tending to our oversight responsibilities.

This hearing today broadly refers to uncertainty, inflation, and regulations as the challenges producers are experiencing. And, as we discuss these important issues and get input from the witnesses today, I encourage my fellow Committee Members to place these problems in their proper context. We are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic on our supply chains. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted manufacturing across the globe, and exacerbated labor shortages.

The Biden Administration has taken important actions to address these issues. President Biden signed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act last year and helped avert a rail crisis. And the President worked with Congress to pass two historic pieces of legislation: the bipartisan Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act which included more than 2.9 billion dollars for USDA’s rural broadband programs, water storage, and a new Bioproduct Pilot Program – the largest infrastructure investment ever.

That was followed by passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which made historic investments in rural America to help our farmers and rural communities mitigate climate change and continue to lead the way on renewable energy. These investments in infrastructure and our farm bill and forestry programs will pay dividends for farmers well into the future.

We have also seen how international conflicts continue to reverberate throughout our economy. Former President Trump’s trade war with China was devastating to many American producers and domestic manufacturers, and more recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had significant impacts on fertilizer, grain, and fuel costs. The cause of inflation isn’t singular in nature; it is the result of a variety of factors.

And with that in mind, we should also strive to focus on the issues that are within the House Agriculture Committee’s jurisdiction so that we can be the most impactful in our work ahead.

And, thank you to all of our witnesses for being here, I look forward to your testimony.

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