US House Ways and Means Committee Holds Field Hearing in Yukon on American Economy

Members of the US House Ways and Means Committee(plus Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas) at Field Hearing in Yukon, Oklahoma Tuesday

House Committee on Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) brought the Committee to Oklahoma and held its second field hearing on the State of the American Economy: The Heartland. The hearing took place on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, in Yukon, Oklahoma.

“During our first official hearing of the 118th Congress, the Ways and Means Committee heard from small business owners, workers, and families in Appalachia about the state of the American economy. Their testimony highlighted the divide between the rosy picture the White House paints and the grim reality on the ground for millions of working Americans and families who are struggling to make ends meet and provide for their loved ones.

On Tuesday, the Committee came to the Heartland in Oklahoma, to hear from farmers, small business owners, workers, and those in the U.S. energy sector about the challenges facing working-class Americans and how they think Congress can help.

Two of the witnesses had farm, ranch and agribusiness ties. Bryan Jackson, Co-Founder, Route 66 Processing in Sayre offered his perspectives on a small meat processing business start up that he and his wife ramped up during the COVID Pandemic. He told the Committee that two of the biggest challenges to his business and it’s survival was in finding and keeping workers- and then the recent impacts of inflation. He surmised that if he had to replace the building they are in- it would cost twice as much to rebuild it compared to it’s original cost.

Click on the Audio Listen Bar below to hear his testimony- click here for his written testimony submitted to the Committee.

Bryan Jackson of Route 66 Meat Processing offering testimony to the US House Ways and Means Committee

Later in the witness lineup came former President of the Oklahoma National Stockyards, Kelli Payne- who described herself currently as a rancher in Mustang, a District Vice President of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and the new board chairman of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Foundation. She also said that she was a proud member of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

Payne described the challenges of drought for Oklahoma Cattle producers- citing the huge liquidation seen in the most recent USDA Cattle Inventory Report for the state. She told the Committee that the state has lost 600,000 head of cattle in the past year because of extreme drought- double the lost of Nebraska- the state in USDA’s Inventory Report that lost the second most cattle in the US.

She also talked of the challenges of regulation by the Biden Administration in policies like WOTUS and the recent endangered species listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

Click on the Audio Listen Bar below to hear Payne’s testimony- click here for her written testimony submitted to the Committee.

Cattle Rancher Kelli Payne testifies to the US House Ways and Means Committee at the Field Hearing in Oklahoma

After the witnesses testified- members of the Committee asked questions- and Chairman Smith gave that same courtesy to Congressman Lucas- who zeroed in on the witnesses representing agricultural interests. Jackson offered his thoughts on the value of being able to have Federal Inspection in his processing plant while Payne affirmed the importance to Congressman Lucas to be able to collaborate with members of Congress and their staffs when it comes to developing policy that works in a positive way for folks out in the country. You can listen to both Payne and Jackson respond to Congressman Lucas by clicking on the Listen Bar below.

Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas talks with the two Ag related witnesses during the Tuesday US House Ways and Means Committee hearing in Yukon.
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