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Source: House Committee on Agriculture Republicans news release

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Chairman, thank you for convening this important hearing on the state of the farm economy. Mr. Secretary, welcome back and thank you for being here with us today.

Earlier, during consideration of the committee's budget views and estimates letter, I commented on the extremely difficult conditions in farm and ranch country. As I said then, I wish we could have strengthened the farm safety net more in the farm bill - but some folks at the table had other ideas on what to spend money on. In any event, worsening conditions certainly warrant our close attention.

Thankfully, there are some things we can do right now to improve conditions in rural America and farm and ranch country and, Mr. Secretary, I believe you are at the tip of the spear on this front.

You ably defended the critical market access our farmers and ranchers gained under NAFTA while the agreement was improved upon under the USMCA. If we truly want to help our nation's farmers and ranchers and the entire U.S. economy, passing USMCA should be a priority of every Member of Congress.

Mr. Secretary, I know you are also working hard to ensure that there is a successful resolution very soon to the ongoing trade dispute with China - a resolution that will help level the playing field for the United States and require China to live by the same rules we do. During this process, I greatly appreciate the initiative you took to provide farmers and ranchers with the Market Facilitation Program to help them weather the unjustified retaliatory tariffs that have been imposed.

And, Mr. Secretary, I am behind you and the administration all the way in your efforts to unwind all of the arbitrary and costly regulatory burdens that have been heaped on our nation's farmers and ranchers, including the prior administration's Waters of the U.S. regulation and its climate change regs.

Expanding markets, regulatory relief, and a strong safety net are three essential ingredients to a healthy and vibrant rural America and you, Mr. Secretary, have worked hard to ensure all three. I'm looking forward to visiting with you further at this hearing and off-line about how we can improve the lives of those who feed and clothe our nation and the lives of all rural Americans.

Our farmers and ranchers and rural Americans are still the backbone of this country, and if we keep them strong, we will also have a much stronger country.

Mr. Secretary, I know you and I share this conviction, and I'm grateful for all you do. I look forward to your testimony. With that, I yield back.

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