Ranking Member Jim Costa Opening Statement at “A Review of Animal Agriculture Stakeholder Priorities” Hearing

House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Produce Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim Costa delivered the following statement at today’s hearing entitled “A Review of Animal Agriculture Stakeholder Priorities.” Watch the full hearing here.

[As prepared for delivery]

Good morning and thank you all for being here today and thank you Chairman Mann for holding this hearing. As all of you know, we are in the middle of a Farm Bill year, and while livestock may not have its own title, it is critical that we enact policies that benefit the entire livestock industry. The pandemic exposed some issues in our supply chains and led to incredibly difficult circumstances for many producers across the livestock industry, and I believe there is work to do to address those problems.

While we have recently seen a gradual increase in cattle prices for small producers, I think it is critical that we take the lessons from the pandemic to ensure that we create and maintain policies that ensure that livestock operations can remain viable during economic downturns. I think we all have an interest in providing security to producers to create stability, and I am happy to work with all of you to bring forward policies that work for everyone. I have been through a number of farm bills where I have worked in a bipartisan manner, and I will continue to work with stakeholders, USDA, and across the aisle to advocate for programs that help producers and bring high quality products to consumers.

As a farmer, I know the importance of effective programs, and I hear frequently from both state and national groups about the importance of moving a bipartisan and on time farm bill. California is the top agricultural producing state, and cattle and calves are one of California’s top agricultural products, valued at over 3 billion dollars in 2021, while dairy topped the charts in California at close to 7.4 billion. Farm bill programs are critical for California producers, and producers across the country.

Programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), and the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), do not get as much attention as some others, but they are essential tools for producers, especially as we see impacts from climate change lead to more and more extreme weather. This year in California alone we have gone from intense drought to atmospheric rivers. And producers in the central valley are reliant upon disaster programs to ensure that they can maintain their businesses. While we should continue to focus on ways to reduce emissions and address the root causes of climate change, it is critical that we support producers as they navigate the fallout from changing weather patterns.

Last month we heard from Under Secretary Moffitt on the animal health programs, which are critical tools to maintaining a safe and secure food supply. It is important that we reauthorize those programs and work with stakeholders such as yourselves to improve them where possible. I want to thank you all for the testimony that you will provide today. Livestock are an essential part of agricultural and we have before us an impressive and well-qualified group of witnesses to speak about livestock issues. It is critical that we get the farm bill right and your testimony and answers to questions today will inform how we move forward. Thank you and I yield back.

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