First 2023 Home Agriculture Committee Listening to Focuses on Challenges
The House Agriculture Committee held its first hearing of the new congressional year, titled “Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture”. Opening statements from the committee leaders were partisan and politically charged.
Committee Chair Glenn “G.T.” Thompson (R-PA) listed several recent problems agriculture has faced, such as the rising costs of fuel and inputs, and the problems caused by the war in Ukraine.
“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,” Thompson said. “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.”
Thompson said the Biden Administration has not done enough to mitigate the problems.
“The Biden Administration continues to ignore these crises, neglecting America’s producers and consumers,” said Thompson. “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.”
Committee Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA) also talked about current problems during his opening statements. He mentioned the impacts of the pandemic on supply chains and manufacturing around the globe.
“The Biden Administration has taken important actions to address these issues,” Scott said. “President Biden signed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act last year and helped avert a rail crisis. And the President worked with Congress to pass two historic pieces of legislation: the bipartisan Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act which included more than 2.9 billion dollars for USDA’s rural broadband programs, water storage, and a new Bioproduct Pilot Program – the largest infrastructure investment ever.”
Scott put some blame on the Trump Administration.
“We have also seen how international conflicts continue to reverberate throughout our economy. Former President Trump’s trade war with China was devastating to many American producers and domestic manufacturers, and more recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had significant impacts on fertilizer, grain, and fuel costs,” Scott said. “The cause of inflation isn’t singular in nature; it is the result of a variety of factors.”
American Farm Bureau president Zippy Duval was among the six witnesses at the hearing. He encouraged lawmakers to look beyond party lines.
“The farm bill has been a bipartisan effort in the past. The 2023 farm bill presents an important opportunity for lawmakers to rise above partisanship,” Duvall said. “I encourage you work together again to pass legislation that protects food security for all Americans and the future success of our farmers and ranchers.”
Duvall also laid out the principles supported by Farm Bureau for the 2023 Farm Bill.
“We support increasing the baseline funding for commitments to farm programs. We want to maintain a unified farm bill that includes nutrition programs and farm programs together and we want to prioritize funding for risk management tools, which include both federal crop insurance and commodity programs,” he said.
Along with Duvall, the witness list included another five agricultural leaders including:
- Peter Friedmann, Executive Director, Agriculture Transportation Coalition, Washington, D.C.
- Corey Rosenbusch, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Fertilizer Institute, Arlington, VA
- Michael Twining, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Willard Agri-Service, Worton, MD
- Mike Brown, President, National Chicken Council, Washington, D.C.
- Rob Larew, President, National Farmers Union, Washington, D.C.
This was the first House Agriculture Committee hearing since last September.
National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.
Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.