Today, Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), along with 16 other members of the committee who supported Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), sent a letter to Ambassador Froman, U.S. Trade Representative, addressing concerns about ongoing negotiations in Atlanta on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
While members expressed hope that ongoing negotiations will yield an agreement they can support, one that will be good for the U.S. and all of American agriculture, they outlined several remaining concerns including improved market access for rice and dairy and expressed disappointment in a new carve-out proposal for tobacco that establishes a dangerous new precedent.Read More
1302 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry – Public HearingRE: To review the 2015 fire season and long-term trendsRead More
Today, the House Agriculture Committee continued its review of U.S. international food aid programs by hearing from a variety of interested stakeholders—private voluntary organizations, commodity organizations, and agricultural processors—regarding their perspectives on how the programs are functioning. These witnesses represent those who produce and process the food used for these programs, as well as the on-the-ground implementers who distribute food aid through emergency feeding and development projects across the globe.
“The U.S. continues to lead global efforts in alleviating hunger and malnutrition thanks to the longstanding commitment and coordination of a wide array of stakeholders like the ones we heard from today. Today’s hearing was helpful in providing a better understanding of the respective roles the various partners play. Their input will prove invaluable as we prepare for future farm bill negotiations, where we will strive to strike the appropriate balance between in-kind and cash-based assistance. It is imperative that all interested parties have a seat at the table as we discuss potential reforms to food aid and proposals for a whole-of-government approach to global food security. I am committed to ensuring that happens and look forward to hearing from additional stakeholders, including the maritime industry, later this Congress,” Chairman K. Michael Conaway said.
Ms. Laura Dills, Deputy Regional Director - Program Quality, East Africa Regional Office, Catholic Relief Services, Baltimore, MD Mr. Lucas Koach, Senior Policy Advisor, Food for the Hungry, Washington, DC Mr. John Didion, CEO, Didion Milling, Johnson Creek, WI Mr. Jeff Peanick, CEO, Breedlove Foods, Inc., Lubbock, TX Mr. Wade Cowan, President, American Soybean Association, Brownfield TX Mr. James William Warshaw, Chairman, Food Aid Subcommittee, USA Rice, Lake Charles, LARead More
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you for being here this morning as the Committee continues its review of U.S. international food aid programs. The purpose of today’s hearing is to obtain the perspective of those producing and processing the food used in our food aid programs as well as those tasked with distributing that aid to those in need around the world.
Today’s hearing is the third in our review. So far, the committee has heard from agency officials charged with the administration of these important programs about their views on how the programs are working, and how they can be improved.
Our Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture has also heard from the Government Accountability Office and the inspectors general from both USDA and USAID regarding their efforts to monitor program implementation.
Based on that hearing, it is clear that reviews of cash-based assistance are few and far between, and that efforts have only just begun to evaluate the benefits of the flexibility provided in the 2014 Farm Bill. Those findings underscored my view that the continued push for added program flexibility is premature.
Speaking of ongoing reform efforts, the Committee continues to seek all the facts surrounding rumored negotiations between USAID and the maritime industry regarding a potential agreement that would increase funding to participants in the Maritime Security Program in exchange for unprecedented levels of cash assistance within Food for Peace. As I am sure you are all aware, Subcommittee Chairman Rouzer and I sent letters to USDA, USAID, and the Department of Transportation’s U.S. Maritime Administration requesting documents and communications related to those negotiations. Unfortunately, we have yet to receive a substantive production of documents.
It is my understanding that those negotiations—and until recently, discussions regarding a whole-of-government approach to global food security—have largely ignored the views of the agricultural community. That’s why I believe it is especially important that we provide a platform here today to ensure that a variety of perspectives are heard.
America’s farmers are the most productive in the world and— without question—generate the safest and highest quality food available. Their contribution has served as the backbone of these programs for the past sixty years and should not be overlooked. Furthermore, any review of food aid programs would be incomplete without input from those organizations carrying out the day-to-day implementation of feeding and development programs across the globe.
Finally, given the committee’s commitment to gathering input from all segments involved in the lasting legacy of food aid, we also intend to hear from the maritime industry in a separate hearing later this fall.
The United States has long been the leader in the fight against global hunger, and today, I look forward to learning more about the role that private voluntary organizations, agricultural processors and suppliers, and the commodity groups play in that effort.
Again, thank you all for being here. I now yield to the Ranking Member for any remarks he would like to make.Read More
Today, the House Agriculture Committee approved an amendment in the nature of a substitute to H.R. 1317, a bill to amend the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to specify how clearing requirements apply to certain affiliate transactions, and for other purposes.
First introduced by Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) on March 4th, H.R. 1317 will narrowly expand the end-user clearing relief, so that it provides the relief Congress intended for entities that hedge on behalf of affiliated end-users. H.R. 1317 was amended by the House Financial Services Committee on July 29th and reported out by a vote of 57-0. The amendment offered by Rep. Marcia Fudge mirrors the language adopted by the House Financial Services Committee.
“These commercial end-users are agricultural producers and manufacturers who employ thousands of Americans and rely on the derivatives markets to manage their risks. This amendment is a common-sense clarification – language which the House has previously approved – to make sure end-users are able to qualify for the exemptions Congress intended. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to include this language in their legislative package that would reauthorize the CFTC and make other important changes to the CEA,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway.Read More
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you for joining us today and welcome to today’s business meeting to consider H.R. 1317, a bill to amend the Commodity Exchange Act and Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to specify how clearing requirements apply to certain affiliate transactions, and for other purposes.
During consideration of the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress clearly intended to exempt commercial end-users from the Act’s costly clearing requirements. These end-users are not speculators or risk-takers. They are agricultural producers, manufacturers, and utilities who employ thousands of Americans and rely on the derivatives markets to hedge their operational risks.
Unfortunately, the Dodd-Frank Act did not grant adequate relief to commercial end-users from its clearing requirements. The bill before us represents the bipartisan work of dozens of members of Congress over the past four years to relieve commercial end-users from burdensome and unnecessary clearing requirements.
Many commercial end-users are affiliates of parent companies. The parent companies generally prefer to mitigate risk among their affiliates instead of having each affiliate face the market independently. These parent companies manage and offset risk among their affiliates through a centralized treasury unit or CTU. CTUs can aggregate the commercial risk of the parent company’s end-user affiliates and offset the remaining risk through swaps with third parties.
CTUs reduce the overall credit risk a corporate group poses to the market because they can net positions across affiliates, reducing the overall number of external facing transactions. In addition, they permit a company to enhance its efficiency by centralizing its risk management expertise in a single affiliate.
Section 723 of the Dodd-Frank Act grants an exemption from the clearing mandate to CTUs that act as an “agent” for their end-user affiliates. However, it does not provide an exception for CTUs that act as a “principal” for their end-user affiliates.
Unfortunately, most end-user CTUs act as a principal in order to net exposures and simplify their parent company’s hedging program. Accordingly, most end-user CTUs do not currently qualify for the exception afforded by the law. This substantially increases the end-user’s costs, without any real reduction in risk. Those increased costs may preclude commercial end-users from hedging their operational risks, in spite of Congress’ clear intention to exempt them from the clearing mandate.
H.R. 1317 seeks to narrowly expand the end-user clearing exception afforded to CTUs so that it functions as Congress intended. Importantly, the bill does not provide relief from clearing requirements for trades entered into by CTUs to hedge the risk of financial affiliates. The amendment offered by Ms. Fudge will further cement these protections to ensure that the exception is only available for end-users.
Members of our committee have long been supportive of fixing this issue and similar language was even included in the Commodity End User Protection Act. I want to thank Ms. Fudge and Mr. Gibson for their work shepherding this bill through the House the past four years. It is an important issue and one that I hope can finally be resolved.
With that, I’ll turn to my Ranking Member for any thoughts he might have.Read More
Today, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, held a public hearing to review research innovations achieved by the nation’s agricultural colleges and universities. Members heard from a panel of distinguished researchers representing some of the most prestigious agricultural colleges and universities in the country.
Today’s hearing was the third in a series of hearings highlighting agricultural research, extension, and education programs. Back in April, the subcommittee held a hearing with Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden and 17 young leaders in the 4-H program who spoke about the need to strengthen the urban, rural coalition. Then, in July, the full Agriculture Committee held a hearing to honor the 125th anniversary of the enactment of the Second Morrill Act of 1890, during which the presidents of the 1890 land-grant universities shared with the committee their views regarding advancements their universities have made and the challenges faced by the agriculture community. Furthermore, two weeks ago the committee heard from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research, Education, and Economics division who emphasized the return on investment from agriculture research. The International Food Policy Research Institute has concluded that these investments have a 48 percent average annual rate of return.
“Over the course of this hearing series we have seen and heard first-hand the high rate of return from investments in agricultural research and innovation. I am excited to see stakeholders prioritizing the need for food and agricultural research within our national policy discussions. As we begin preparing for the next farm bill, we will look to these stakeholders and the challenges they are facing to establish policies that will allow our research sector to continue to evolve and grow. I want to thank all of our witnesses for their participation today, especially Dr. Hauser, Dean of the University of Illinois, College of Agriculture, for his insight on this topic specific to my district and home state of Illinois,” Subcommittee Chairman Davis said.
“Investments in agricultural innovation and research are an important way to strengthen and improve our industry. With the population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, farmers and ranchers need all the tools that agricultural researchers can provide to meet these food and fiber needs. I am proud to see that federal investment in agricultural research is paying dividends to our industry, and universities like the ones we heard from today are utilizing these resources to lead this productive advancement in agriculture.” Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said.
Dr. Robert J. Hauser, Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL Dr. James W. Moyer, Associate Dean for Research, College of Agricultural, Human, and NaturalResource Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA Dr. Mindy Brashears, Director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence, TexasTech University, Lubbock, TX Dr. Michael Heithaus, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Florida International University, North Miami, FL Dr. Michael P. Lacy, Professor and Department Head, Department of Poultry Science, University of Georgia, Athens, GA Dr. Douglas D. Buhler, Senior Associate Dean for Research, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MIRead More
Remarks as prepared:
Good morning. I would like to welcome everyone here today to the third in a series of hearings highlighting agricultural research, extension and education programs.
On April 14th, this subcommittee had the honor of hosting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Hardin along with 17 bright and gifted young people involved in the 4H program. These young men and woman spoke to us about the need and opportunity to build a coalition of urban and rural youth to enhance agricultural knowledge across our nation.
Then on July 15th, the full Agriculture Committee held a historic hearing involving the presidents of all nineteen 1890 land grant universities in order to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the enactment of the second Morrill Act.
This act, like its predecessor in 1862 contributed to our nation’s capacity to conduct research in support of agricultural production through the creation of land grant universities.
Since that time, we have added to our capacity by providing land grant status to designated tribal colleges in 1994, and quasi land grant status to Cooperative Forestry colleges under the McIntyre-Stennis Act, our nation’s veterinary colleges under the Animal Health and Disease capacity and infrastructure program, and most recently, Hispanic Serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities in 2008. We have likewise recognized the investment in agricultural research capacity in numerous unaffiliated colleges and universities and have authorized funding to further augment capacity and infrastructure at these designated Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture.
Together, this system of agricultural colleges and universities provides our nations farmers and ranchers with tremendous advances in technology as well as helping to solve problems ranging from food safety to resource conservation; from nutrition to water quality; and from diseases of livestock and crops to renewable energy production.
Two weeks ago, the agriculture committee heard from the various mission areas and agencies of the USDA. Among the testimony we heard was commentary from the Research, Education and Economics mission area highlighting the return on investment from agricultural research.
For example, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) introduced 348 new plant varieties last year and filed 110 patent applications. Some of the work done by ARS has resulted in the insecticide Deet, the most common active ingredient in insect repellants, flaked mashed potatoes, sliced apples that stay fresh longer, and frozen foods.
A conclusion drawn by many stakeholders is that we must prioritize food and agricultural research within our national policy discussions. I am convinced by what I have seen that public support for agricultural research does in fact have a high rate of return. In fact, the International Food Policy Research Institute having studied the impacts of agricultural research and extension published since 1953 has concluded that this investment has provided an average annual rate of return of 48%. And to echo comments made by Pope Francis during his address to Congress just last week, I am “confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can made a vital contribution in the years ahead.”
We recognize that as we approach our discussions in developing the next farm bill, there are numerous policy challenges confronting our nation’s research sector. Today, we will begin those discussions. In doing so, we have assembled a panel of preeminent researchers representing some of our most illustrious agricultural colleges and universities and have asked that they focus on the successes that have resulted from this federal investment.
I am particularly honored that the Dean of the University of Illinois, College of Agriculture, Dr. Bob Hauser, is participating in this hearing. Dr. Hauser has served on the faculty in the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois for more than three decades and understands the importance of the agricultural research conducted at America’s land grant universities. I look forward to hearing from him and the other distinguished members of our panel about some of the great success stories from agricultural institutions across the country.
Before I introduce the rest of the panel, I would first like to recognize the distinguished ranking member of the subcommittee, Ms. Delbene for her opening statement as well as to introduce her honored guest.Read More
Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) today issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 2051, a bill to reauthorize the Mandatory Price Reporting Act, the United States Grain Standards Act, and the National Forest Foundation Act. Legislative language to reauthorize each of these was introduced, reported by the House Agriculture Committee, and passed by the House on voice vote as standalone measures on June 9th of this year. The Mandatory Price Reporting Act and the Grain Standards Act authorities are set to expire on Wednesday, September 30th.
“I am thankful to my colleagues for getting our work done and passing this legislation before the Mandatory Price Reporting Act and the Grain Standards Act authorities are set to expire. These bipartisan bills will provide certainty for farmers and ranchers and prevent devastating impacts on our nation’s meat industries and grain exporters. Furthermore, the reauthorization of the National Forest Foundation Act will provide funds to the foundation to assist in restoring and enhancing our national forests and grasslands. H.R. 2051 represents a bipartisan package and the collaborative work of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and I am proud to support this legislation. I urge the President to take immediate action and sign this bill into law.”Read More
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