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OPENING STATEMENT FROM HOUSE AG COMMITTEE CHAIR AT FIRST FARM BILL HEARING
Source: House Ag Committee news release

WASHINGTON, DC -- delivered the following opening remarks at today's full committee hearing entitled, "Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture."

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

"Good morning, and welcome to the first House Committee on Agriculture hearing of the 118th Congress. Our focus this morning will be on the headwinds facing production agriculture. Without a comprehensive understanding of industry's challenges, we cannot write an impactful Farm Bill that addresses the needs of those who grow, process, and consume the food, fuel, and fiber we are blessed to produce here in the United States.

"As we seek solutions, it is my vision that this Committee will provide the necessary tools to our farmers and ranchers to ease the barriers to production felt in recent years. As Chairman, I challenge each Member of the Agriculture Committee to view all policies through the lens of science, technology, and innovation, and identify forward-looking solutions throughout our work.

"Our nation's farmers, ranchers, and foresters are exceptional, having increased food and fiber production nearly three-fold since the 1940s. They have done so with no relative increase in inputs--serving as shining stars of sustainability and conservation practices. However, the uncertainty caused by a global pandemic, geopolitical unrest, and incessant government intrusion has led to a modest production decline in recent years.

"Enduring production agriculture policies are essential to our national security. Maintaining a safe, abundant, and affordable domestic food supply is equally essential, as is meeting the needs of perennial global food crises.

"Over the last several years, I have traveled to more than 40 states and have heard firsthand from our farmers on issues related to labor, fuel, fertilizer, inflation, and interest rates. The average cost of diesel fuel per gallon increased 95 percent between 2020 and 2022. The 2022 average Henry Hub real natural gas spot price increased 53 percent from 2021. Fertilizer inputs such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium increased 125 percent in 2021 and an additional 30 percent in the first five months of 2022 alone. Urea, the most applied nitrogen fertilizer, increased 205 percent in price between 2020 and 2022.

"Last week marked one year since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which perpetuates a disrupted global food system, resulting in continued increased energy prices, fertilizer cost spikes and shortages, and worsening food scarcities in developing countries. At the same time, American consumers are watching in dismay as their grocery and energy bills skyrocket.

"The Biden Administration continues to ignore these crises, neglecting America's producers and consumers. In fact, this Administration continues to promote nonsensical regulations and policies that create needless uncertainty for farmers, ranchers, and working families, further limiting our ability to meet the growing food demands of our nation and the world.

"The challenges facing production agriculture are many. However, I believe one of the few silver linings--maybe the only silver lining--of the coronavirus pandemic is Americans' heightened awareness of the importance of a reliable, domestic food supply and the producers who provide it.

"As members of the House Committee on Agriculture in a Farm Bill reauthorization cycle, it is our mandate to fully understand these challenges and work diligently and without partisanship to ensure the passage of a strong Farm Bill that addresses the issues highlighted today.

"Thank you to the witnesses appearing here before us today. I look forward to your testimony.

"And regardless of the challenges, it is time to retire our dress shoes and put on the work boots. We have a lot of work to do, and I will need every one of you at the table to help us deliver a Farm Bill for the backbone of this country--the American producer."


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