Ranking Member David Scott Questions Farm Bill Delay at EPA Hearing

Today, at a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s influences on American agriculture, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott raised questions about the status of the 2024 Farm Bill. Watch the full hearing here.

[As prepared for delivery]

Good afternoon, I would like to thank our witnesses for coming today and providing their valuable testimony on the EPA.

But, before I get to today’s hearing, I must express my deep concerns about Chairman Thompson’s willingness to forgo the farm bill.

His stubborn refusal to engage on a bipartisan farm bill is irresponsible for the American people, especially our farmers who feed, fuel, clothe, and house our nation.

Since the divisive markup almost two months ago, there has been no progress on Chairman Thompson’s partisan bill.

This delay hurts the American people, especially in our rural communities where our farms are. And it injects uncertainty into our Nation’s economies, both rural and urban. The willingness to delay the bill to play election-year politics is selfish and disrespectful to our farmers. They depend on us to pass a bipartisan farm bill.

Let’s not be cute about this – food security is national security. Chairman Thompson knows this – he put it in the dang title: “The Farm, Food, and National Security Act.”

Shouldn’t the Republicans be getting serious about this? Speaker Johnson will not bring the bill to the Floor for a vote because it was not written as a serious bill. It was written to be used as a campaign slogan, nothing more!

Chairman Thompson can prove me wrong. All he has to do is bring it to the Floor and put it up for a vote.

In 2007, one week after our Democratic Chairman Peterson marked up his farm bill, Speaker Pelosi brought it to the House Floor. She brought it up during the last week of July – which is the height of appropriations season – because it was important. I was on the Committee! We had urgency.

Republican Speakers Boehner and Ryan each brought up Chairmen Lucas’ and Conaway’s respective farm bills a month after their markups. I was on the Committee then, too.

Here we are, two months past our markup with the calendar running out. August recess is right around the corner. Election season is quickly approaching. September deadlines are looming.

And where are the Republicans? I’ll tell you where: They’re scheduling votes on refrigerators and dishwashers. Now, I don’t have anything against household appliances – but we’re talking about people’s lives here. We’re talking about food security and national security.

I do not want any more excuses. It’s time to fish or cut bait. America deserves our urgency. Farmers and businesses deserve action now.

Since the markup, Speaker Johnson has not indicated any intention of moving Chairman Thompson’s bill. The Speaker’s last public comments said he still needs to review the bill. It’s been two months. What’s left to review?

This lack of movement is indicative of one of two things: Either Republicans are happy to keep the farm bill where it is, which is nowhere. Or they can’t bring themselves to engage with Democrats to get the bipartisan support the farm bill will require to become law.

Democrats were explicit about what changes would garner our support, as we reminded you during the May 23rd markup.

If you think you don’t need us and have all the Republican support you need to pass this bill, what are you waiting for? Bring the bill to the Floor.

I think our farmers want action this year, not next. Our business community needs action now. Our American families need action now. We all want a bipartisan farm bill to pass now.

Therefore, I encourage my Republican colleagues to stop playing politics and join us in reality. Let’s pass this important legislation this year in a bipartisan manner.

Now, back to the topic of today’s hearing on the EPA’s influence on American agriculture.

American farmers are some of our country’s great conservationists, and they are at the forefront of climate change. They understand how preserving the integrity of the environment helps to produce high-quality crops and sustainably raise healthy animals.

The current EPA and Administrator Regan recognize this and have made significant strides to incorporate farmers into EPA’s regulatory and decision-making processes. Balancing agricultural production with environmental and public health is not an easy task. However, the EPA has done great work to ensure that farmers have a voice in regulatory discussions.

Administrator Regan was the first Administrator of the EPA to attend the Commodity Classic. He also expanded the Ag Advisor position into a formal Office of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. He and his staff also worked closely with stakeholders on addressing the Agency’s obligations under the Endangered Species Act while ensuring the continued availability of crop protection products.

EPA is also using funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to improve water infrastructure and provide clean and safe water for farmers and rural communities.

Based on the title and tenor around today’s hearing, Republicans clearly intend to use this forum to lambast EPA for their work. All the while ignoring that EPA may be acting in response to court orders and other legal actions.

It is apparent that farmers and the EPA can have a working relationship. Administrator Regan has made cultivating that relationship a priority. Mr. Chairman, you have my commitment to work with you to achieve our common goal: An EPA that works with American agriculture while protecting human health and our soil, water, and air.

Thank you and I yield back.

Verified by MonsterInsights