Committee on Agriculture

Michael Conaway

Joint Letter to Secretary John Kerry regarding U.S. Rice Exports to Iraq

2015/01/23

Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran sent a letter, with the support of many of their colleagues, to Secretary John Kerry urging him to improve existing trade relations with the Iraqi Grain Board (IGB).

In recent years the IGB has significantly decreased purchases of U.S. rice and instead bought higher priced grain from other countries. About half of U.S. production is exported, making strong export markets critical to the U.S. rice industry. Rice production in the U.S. generates approximately $34 billion in economic activity annually, creating thousands of jobs in rural areas. 

View the letter below.

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Agriculture Committee Holds Organizational Meeting, Approves Rules

2015/01/21

Today, members of the House Committee on Agriculture met to formally organize and adopt the Committee’s rules for the 114th Congress.  

“We have a very talented team of proven leaders whose impressive and diverse backgrounds will be a great asset in the Committee’s work this Congress,” said Conaway, who began his first term as Chairman this month. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to promote a strong production agriculture system and maintain a vibrant rural America.”

The Chairman’s full statement can be viewed here. Supporting documents can be viewed here. Video of the meeting can be viewed here.

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Opening Statement of Chairman K. Michael Conaway, Committee on Agriculture Business Meeting to Consider Organizational Matters of the Committee in the 114th Congress

2015/01/21

I am honored to serve as the 50th Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and to build upon the work of Frank Lucas. Chairman Lucas, you have set a high standard for the committee, and your knowledge and experience will continue to serve the Committee well as we move forward in our work together. I also want to thank Ranking Member Peterson for his contributions to agriculture in general and to the Committee specifically. I look forward to working with you.

I have served on this committee since I was first elected to Congress in 2004 – both as a member and three terms as a subcommittee chairman or ranking member, and I am proud to continue representing Texas’ 11th District in this leadership role. I represent, and love, rural America. The values and concepts that make our nation great are stored there, and I want to protect that. To maintain a vibrant rural America, we must maintain a strong production agriculture system. This is the driving force behind the work we do at the Agriculture Committee. I, along with many of you on this Committee, represent rural America, and we are their voice. I consider this a privilege and a great responsibility.

While feeding and clothing our nation—and much of the rest of the world for that matter—agriculture contributes over ¾ of a trillion dollars to GDP annually while providing more than 16 million jobs.  Beyond the significant economic contributions of agriculture, the values and concepts that make America great are stored in rural America and each of us on the committee is responsible for protecting that.

During the 114th Congress, the Committee will ensure that the Agricultural Act of 2014—which we labored over for most of the last 4 years—is implemented appropriately. We will also reauthorize the CFTC while ensuring that other key end-user protections are signed into law. We will focus on aggressive oversight of all policies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction, including a full-scale review of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here today:  I am not pre-judging the outcome of the work our committee will undertake. We owe it to American taxpayers to do a thoughtful and thorough review of the programs under our jurisdiction.

With all of that said, before our work can begin, we must formally organize. To that end, today we will adopt the Committee’s Oversight Plan, Committee Rules, and the Committee Staff List for the 114th Congress.

I want to welcome back to the Committee our returning Members from the 113th Congress, as well as 8 new Republican and 6 new Democratic members. Ranking Member Peterson and I are pleased to formally introduce each of our new Members here today.

Jackie Walorski is new to the Committee, but in her second term in Congress. She is a proud Hoosier and brings a thoughtful perspective having lived in Romania for four years to run her foundation that provides medical supplies and attention to impoverished children.

Ralph Abraham is a physician, veteran, and a former large animal veterinarian from Northeast Louisiana.

Rick Allen is an entrepreneur and smart businessman from Georgia whose construction company in Augusta has created thousands of jobs.

He is joined by another successful business owner, Mike Bost of Illinois. Mike has served his country as a Marine and his community as a firefighter, and I know he will serve our farmers and ranchers well.

Tom Emmer comes to us from Minnesota, where he served in the state legislature and ran his own law firm.

Before coming to Congress, John Moolenaar was a chemist and served in both the Michigan State House and Senate.

Dan Newhouse is a farmer, businessman and state legislator from Washington who served as Director of Washington State’s Department of Agriculture.

And finally, David Rouzer – a businessman and seasoned legislator having served in the North Carolina Senate.

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Full Committee Organizational Meeting for the 114th Congress

2015/01/21

The House Committee on Agriculture will meet on Thursday, January 22, at 10:00 a.m. in room 1300 Longworth to consider its rules package for the 114th Congress. The Committee will consider the following:

  1. Rules of the Committee on Agriculture for the 114th Congress;
  2. Oversight Plan of the Committee on Agriculture for the 114th Congress;
  3. Committee Staff List for the 114th Congress.

 

Amendments:

En bloc amendment

Supporting Documents:

Meeting Notice

Proposed Committee Rules (highlighting changes) for the 114th Congress

Committee Oversight Plan for the 114th Congress

Committee Staff List

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Full Committee Organizational Meeting for the 114th Congress

2015/01/16

The House Committee on Agriculture will meet on Thursday, January 22, at 10:00 a.m. in room 1300 Longworth to consider its rules package for the 114th Congress. The Committee will consider the following:

  1. Rules of the Committee on Agriculture for the 114th Congress;
  2. Oversight Plan of the Committee on Agriculture for the 114th Congress;
  3. Committee Staff List for the 114th Congress.

 

Supporting Documents:

Meeting Notice

 

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Chairman-Elect Conaway Announces Subcommittee Leaders for the House Committee on Agriculture

2014/12/10

Chairman-Elect K. Michael Conaway (TX-11) made the following statement today regarding the Subcommittee leadership for the House Committee on Agriculture.

“I am pleased to announce the men and women who will be leading the House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittees during the 114th Congress.   These individuals will play a leading role in developing policies on an array of issues that are important to all Americans. 

“A fellow West Texan, Congressman Randy Neugebauer (TX-19), will serve as Vice Chairman of the Committee.  We have worked together for years and I will benefit from his counsel as I continue to work for both West Texas and the nation.

“I would also like to congratulate Congressman Collin Peterson for being selected as the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee.  I have enjoyed working with Congressman Peterson and I look forward to continuing working with him in the 114th Congress.” 

 

Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research: Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13)

Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit: Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08)

Conservation and Forestry: Congressman Glenn Thompson (PA-05)

General Farm Commodities and Risk Management: Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-01)

Livestock and Foreign Agriculture:  Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07)

Nutrition: Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (IN-02)

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Lucas Applauds USDA for Moving Forward with Implementing Critical Drought Assistance for Farmers

2014/10/21

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement welcoming the news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will move forward with implementing the Actual Production History (APH) adjustment for 2015 spring-planted crops. This crop insurance provision in the Agricultural Act of 2014 allows yield adjustments when losses are widespread and beyond the control of producers. 

"I commend Secretary Vilsack and his team on their efforts to implement this critical provision in the farm bill. The APH adjustment means everything to farmers all across the country who have suffered through year after year of devastating drought conditions. It is the difference between having viable crop insurance for the coming year or not. It is for these reasons that I worked to include the APH adjustment in the farm bill and why I am pleased the Secretary redoubled his efforts to get it done this year. I remain hopeful that USDA will also work to make the same relief available to winter wheat producers."

 

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Subcommittee Focuses on Benefits of Soil Health, Conservation Practices

2014/09/18

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Glenn 'GT' Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry, held a public hearing to examine the benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America. Healthy soil is critical to help producers both feed the world and protect the environment. Congress recognized this after the nation suffered a devastating drought, which led to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Congress established the Soil Conservation Service as a part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1935. The agency was later renamed the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Discussion during the hearing centered on the history and role of the agency, efforts to improve soil health on the state and local level, how the new farm bill will improve conservation practices and soil management, and what other methods can be taken to protect our natural resources.

"Farmers are the original environmentalists and I am pleased to see so many farmers in Pennsylvania and across the country engaging in innovative practices to promote soil health. I am proud of this committee and the important work under the 2014 Farm Bill to improve and expand voluntary conservation programs, including in the area of soils. I also want to thank the Natural Resources Conservation Service, including Chief Weller, for their tireless work to implement these programs and help our farmers and producers enhance conservation practices in this particular area. These are important tools that will enable agriculture to produce the food necessary for an increasing population on less acres, while assisting farmers and ranchers in positive stewardship of the land," said Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA-5).

"Research shows us that employing cover crops can significantly benefit both the environment and farmer’s bottom lines. Today’s hearing was an opportunity to learn more about these successes while looking at ways to address any challenges related to implementing cover crops, such as ensuring cover crop use doesn’t make producers ineligible for crop insurance or other safety net programs," said Ranking Member Timothy Walz (D-MN-01).

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below. Click here for the archived webcast.

Witness List:

Panel I

Mr. Jason Weller, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

Mr. John Larson, CEO, National Association of Conservation Districts, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Shanon Phillips, Director, Water Quality, Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Mr. Jim Harbach, Farm Manager, Schrack Farms, Loganton, Pennsylvania

Ms. Jill Sackett, Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems, University of Minnesota Extension Regional Office, Mankato, Minnesota

 

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Lucas & LaMalfa Praise CFTC Vote that Dials Back Regulatory Reach

2014/09/17

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, and Rep. Doug LaMalfa today issued statements after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) voted, 4-0, to exempt producers, utility companies, and other non-financial entities from being required to register as swap dealers when they enter into energy contracts with government-owned utilities. 

The rule largely reflects the intent of H.R. 1038, the Public Power Risk Management Act, which was sponsored by Rep. Doug LaMalfa. The House Agriculture Committee advanced this bipartisan bill that ultimately won unanimous support on the House floor last year. Further, it was included within H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act, that passed in the House this summer.

"I am pleased this is the agenda and outcome of the first open meeting under Chairman Massad's leadership. It is encouraging to see common sense has prevailed on a regulatory issue that is critical to the livelihoods of so many. The House acted with one, united voice and I applaud the CFTC for following suit thereby protecting Americans from electricity and natural gas rate increases," said Chairman Frank Lucas.

"I am pleased the CFTC finalized a rule consistent with the intent of my bill, H.R. 1038, the Public Power Risk Management Act which was also included in, H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act. Not only will the CFTC’s decision to implement this rule help to ensure continued growth in our agriculture sector, but most importantly, it will protect public power utilities’ access to risk management practices, and in turn, protect American ratepayers from escalating energy prices due to misguided regulations," said Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

Background:

The CFTC's regulations under the Dodd-Frank Act had strained the ability of public utility companies to use commodity swaps to manage risk in their operations. Non-financial entities can engage in up to $3 billion (subject to an initial three year phase-in level of $8 billion) in most swap activities, including with a private utility, before being regulated as a swap dealer. But with a public utility, they can only engage in $25 million in swap activities.

The restrictive regulations served as a deterrent for many to do business with public utilities, which limited the ability of public utilities to protect themselves and their customers from increased costs and market volatility.  Ultimately, this unequal and illogical treatment of public utilities would have caused Americans’ electric and natural gas rates to increase.

On March 11, 2013, Rep. Doug LaMalfa introduced H.R. 1038, the Public Power Risk Management Act. The bill would allow producers, utility companies, and other non-financial entities to continue entering into energy swaps with government-owned utilities without danger of being required to register with the CFTC as a swap dealer.

On March 20, 2013, the House Agriculture Committee advanced H.R. 1038 by voice vote.

On June 12, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 1038 with a 423-0 vote. The U.S. Senate has failed to consider the bill.

On December 11, 2013, Sen. Joe Donnelly introduced S. 1802, the Public Power Risk Management Act. It has bipartisan support with 13 original cosponsors.  The U.S. Senate has failed to consider it. 

On March 26, 2014, the CFTC issued a No-Action Letter that reconsidered the treatment of public utilities under the Dodd-Frank Act. Chairman Lucas and Rep. LaMalfa emphasized the fact that a No-Action Letter is not the rule of law.

On June 24, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4413, the Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act, by a vote of 265-144. The bill included H.R. 1038.

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Committee Examines Implementation of Pilot Projects to Help Struggling Americans Reduce Dependency on Food Stamps & Gain Employment

2014/09/17

MEDIA CONTACT: Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184tamara.hinton@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Frank Lucas held a public hearing to review the implementation of state pilot projects under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of the Agricultural Act of 2014. SNAP is designed primarily to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households to help them buy a nutritional, low-cost diet. One of the reforms in the 2014 Farm Bill included new Employment and Training pilot projects. They allow for up to ten states to develop and test methods to help adults secure employment and job training and reduce their dependency on SNAP. On August 25, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the Request for Applications and Request for Proposals for the pilot projects setting in motion the next phase of implementation.

"It is important to maintain an open line of communication with USDA as it implements the Agricultural Act of 2014.  Today’s hearing was a part of that process and I appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s participation and commend his efforts to date.  The work pilot projects are a response to a need to help struggling Americans find employment and earn higher wages so they are no longer dependent on federal food assistance.  I was encouraged to hear the Secretary is focused on a broad range of projects to help determine the best strategies states can use to help Americans get back to work and off of SNAP.  I am hopeful we will soon see a positive outcome as a result of these projects,” said Chairman Frank Lucas. 

"The work pilot programs discussed today are an example of the bipartisan, cooperative work the Agriculture Committee does so well. We authorized these pilot projects because we value work and we want to put people back to work. Keeping a close eye on farm bill implementation is a top Committee priority and I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about USDA’s efforts to implement the SNAP work pilot programs," said Ranking Member Collin Peterson.

Written testimony provided by the witness is linked below. The archived webcast is linked here.

Witness List:

Panel I

The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

 

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Contact Information

1301 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2171
Fax 202-225-0917
agriculture.house.gov


Membership

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Chris Collins

NEW YORK's 27th DISTRICT

Michael Conaway

TEXAS' 11th DISTRICT

Rick Crawford

ARKANSAS' 1st DISTRICT

Rodney L. Davis

ILLINOIS' 13th DISTRICT

Jeff Denham

CALIFORNIA's 10th DISTRICT

Scott DesJarlais

TENNESSEE's 4th DISTRICT

Stephen Fincher

TENNESSEE's 8th DISTRICT

Bob Gibbs

OHIO's 7th DISTRICT

Chris Gibson

NEW YORK's 19th DISTRICT

Bob Goodlatte

VIRGINIA's 6th DISTRICT

Vicky Hartzler

MISSOURI's 4th DISTRICT

Richard Hudson

NORTH CAROLINA's 8th DISTRICT

Steve King

IOWA's 4th DISTRICT

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Frank Lucas

OKLAHOMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Vance McAllister

LOUISIANA's 5th DISTRICT

Randy Neugebauer

TEXAS' 19th DISTRICT

Kristi Noem

SOUTH DAKOTA

Reid Ribble

WISCONSIN's 8th DISTRICT

Mike Rogers

ALABAMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Austin Scott

GEORGIA's 8th DISTRICT

Scott Tipton

COLORADO's 3rd DISTRICT

Ted Yoho

FLORIDA's 3rd DISTRICT