Committee on Agriculture

Michael Conaway

Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry – Public Hearing

2015/04/24

1300 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C.

Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry – Public Hearing

RE: To review the National Forest System and active forest management

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Subcommittee reviews the reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act

2015/04/22

Today, Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee, held a public hearing to review the reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act.

First enacted in 1999, the Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Act was developed in response to changing markets with an increasing number of animals being sold via marketing arrangements under which prices were not publicly disclosed. As these structural changes continued, livestock producers requested that the voluntary price reporting mechanism be made mandatory. The resulting Act mandated price reporting for live cattle, boxed beef, and live swine, and allowed USDA to establish mandatory price reporting for lamb sales. Subsequent reauthorizations modified swine reporting provisions and reporting of wholesale pork cuts.  The current 5-year authorization expires on September 30th of this year.

“Today’s hearing allows us to start the legislative process of reauthorization by hearing from industry and stakeholders on the challenges they are facing,” Chairman Rouzer said. “It is vital to have industry groups work together to find the best solution. As the committee works on reauthorizing the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act, it is the goal and intent of our committee to bring all parties together and strike a balance that promotes fairness, transparency, and stability in the market. No one knows how to make this process work better than those directly involved, and I appreciate their willingness to work together and with the committee to make this happen."

Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said, “I appreciate representatives from the livestock and packer segments of the industry laying the important groundwork as the Agriculture Committee begins drafting reauthorization language. We will take into account the concerns of farmers and ranchers, packers, and industry affiliates, and hope to find common ground that will benefit producers, consumers, and the overall economy.”

Written testimony provided by the witnesses from today’s hearing is linked below. Click here for more information, including Chairman Rouzer's opening statement and the archived webcast.

​Witness List:

Mr. Mark Dopp, Senior Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Scientific Affairs/General Counsel, North American Meat Institute, Washington, D.C. 

Mr. James R. Heimerl, Heimerl Farms Ltd, Johnstown, OH 

Mr. Burton Pfliger, President, American Sheep Industry Association, Centennial, CO 

Mr. Ed Greiman, Chairman, Cattle Marketing and International Trade Committee, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Garner, IA 

Dr. Craig Morris, Deputy Administrator, Livestock Poultry and Seed Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, Washington, D.C. 

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Chairman Conaway Criticizes European Union Proposal Allowing Member States to Impose Arbitrary Barriers to Trade

2015/04/22

House Committee on Agriculture Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement on the European Commission’s proposal to allow EU countries to ignore science-based safety and environmental determinations made by the European Union and “opt out” of imports of products of biotechnology.

“Today’s announcement by the European Union that it will allow individual member states to impose arbitrary moratoria on products of agricultural biotechnology ignores the scientific consensus regarding the safety of these products and flies in the face of existing trade agreements” said Chairman Conaway said.  “At a time when Europe and the United States are engaged in negotiations to expand market opportunities for producers on both continents, this decision raises serious questions regarding Europe’s commitment to these negotiations.”

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Opening Statement: Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer: Hearing to review reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act

2015/04/22

Remarks as prepared:

Good afternoon. I would like to welcome our witnesses to this discussion regarding reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act.

First enacted in 1999, the Act was developed in response to changing markets with an increasing number of animals being sold via marketing arrangements under which prices were not publicly disclosed. As these structural changes continued, livestock producers requested that the then-voluntary price reporting mechanism be made mandatory. Thus, the resulting Act mandated price reporting for live cattle, boxed beef, and live swine, and it allowed USDA to establish mandatory price reporting for lamb sales as well.

Development of the Act and each subsequent reauthorization has ultimately involved and required consensus between producers and packers for implementation to work as smoothly as possible. As we approach the expiration of the current law, we have once again asked producers and packers to work towards consensus regarding any requested modifications to the underlying statute.

We are aware that discussions have been ongoing and that while we are very close to a final package of requests, some further discussion may be necessary prior to announcing a markup of a reauthorization bill. Proposals have been shared between and among the various stakeholder groups and those proposals have been forwarded to the Committee for review. As consensus is reached, the Committee will prepare draft bill text to be circulated among Members with the intent to post that legislation for public review later this week or early next week.

Today, we have invited representatives of the affected livestock organizations, as well as a representative of the packers’ trade association, NAMI, to share their proposals, identify areas of consensus, and to identify areas of concern.

I would note that a representative of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, the agency which administers mandatory price reporting, was originally invited to testify today. We have been in discussions with the Secretary’s office and it was the preference of the Department to focus its effort on more detailed briefings and technical assistance on the legislative draft as opposed to testifying on today’s witness panel. Additionally, I’m pleased that Dr. Craig Morris, Deputy Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service with direct responsibility for the Livestock, Poultry and Seed Program is here today and is prepared to answer any questions that Members may have.

Again, I would like to thank all of our witnesses for their attendance and now yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Costa, for his opening statement.

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Subcommittee reviews the reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act

2015/04/22

Today, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, held a public hearing to review the reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act.

The U.S. Grain Standards Act, which was first passed in 1916, authorizes the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration to establish official marketing standards for grains and oilseeds, and requires that exported grains and oilseeds be officially weighed and inspected. It also establishes rules for the voluntary inspection of domestic grain.

“Reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act will ensure an accurate, reliable, consistently available, and cost-effective grain inspection and weighing system,” Chairman Crawford said. “Our farmers and the companies that purchase their grain and oilseeds depend on these standards for grades and weights to remain competitive in the world market.”

Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway said, “I appreciate representatives from industry sharing their thoughts on how the current law could be improved. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, we must maintain and strengthen the marketing infrastructure that allows our grain exporters to remain competitive in the global marketplace. I look forward to moving legislation.”

Written testimony provided by the witnesses from today’s hearing is linked below. Click here for more information, including Chairman Crawford's opening statement and the archived webcast.

​Witness List:

Mr. David Winkles, President, South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, Columbia, SC 

Mr. J. David Cox, Sr., National President, American Federation of Government Employees, Washington, D.C. 

Mr. Nick Friant, Chairman, NGFA Grain Grades and Weights Committee, and Co-Chair, NEAGA Grain Grades and Inspections Committee, on behalf of the National Grain and Feed Association and the North American Export Grain Association, Wayzata, MN 

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Opening Statement: General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford: To review reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act

2015/04/22

Remarks as prepared:

This hearing comes nearly a century after the Grain Standards Act of 1916 was signed into law by then President Woodrow Wilson. For nearly 100 years, this law has been the cornerstone of the vibrant grain trade both for domestic consumption and international trade. This law is relied upon not only by exporters and domestic shippers, but by the whole US agricultural sector. It establishes official marketing standards and procedures for the inspection and weighing of grains and oilseeds, providing a critical service to the grain marketplace.

The witnesses who join us today represent industries that have thrived over the last century, and transformed the grain trade into the economic juggernaut it represents today. The GSA has supported the evolution of this industry by providing a backbone of stability relied upon by exporters, shippers, farmers and even consumers.  With the farm economy and so many of our constituents relying on the ability of grain and oilseeds to get to market, reauthorization of the GSA should have this one goal in mind: stability. And I mean this in a couple of ways.

Many of the provisions in current law are set to expire on September 30th of this year. A lapse in authorization would disrupt the current grain and inspections process, therefore Congress should not delay in passing its reauthorization. To do this, we need to get our work done well in advance and achieve bipartisan consensus. That is why we’re hosting this hearing more than five months ahead of the deadline.

Secondly, the GSA needs to provide stability by ensuring we can avoid disruptions like that which took place last year in Washington State. Last summer, the Washington State Department of Agriculture was providing export inspections under a delegation of federal authority at an export terminal at the Port of Vancouver. The department discontinued its export inspection amid an ongoing labor dispute.

Since labor disputes happen from time to time, this kind of situation was anticipated by our predecessors, which is why the current GSA provides a mechanism for the US Department of Agriculture to step in and provide inspection services, in the event of a disruption. However, the dispute devolved into a political situation in which the Secretary of Agriculture declined to use his discretionary authority to maintain inspections. While inspection services were eventually restored, it is incumbent on the Committee to take appropriate action to provide safeguards against a repeat of that unfortunate decision.

We have reviewed proposals from grain industry organizations and have engaged in considerable discussion with other stakeholder organizations represented on today’s panel. Likewise, majority and minority offices have worked very closely in an effort to develop bipartisan consensus in advance of a markup in the near future.

It is my understanding that discussions regarding legislative drafts are nearly concluded, and we expect to circulate those drafts for public review shortly. I hope the discussion today will confirm areas of consensus as well as provide necessary insight regarding areas where additional work may be necessary. With that, I thank the witnesses for being here today to aid us in this process, and I yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Walz, for his opening comments.Remarks as prepared:

This hearing comes nearly a century after the Grain Standards Act of 1916 was signed into law by then President Woodrow Wilson. For nearly 100 years, this law has been the cornerstone of the vibrant grain trade both for domestic consumption and international trade. This law is relied upon not only by exporters and domestic shippers, but by the whole US agricultural sector. It establishes official marketing standards and procedures for the inspection and weighing of grains and oilseeds, providing a critical service to the grain marketplace.

The witnesses who join us today represent industries that have thrived over the last century, and transformed the grain trade into the economic juggernaut it represents today. The GSA has supported the evolution of this industry by providing a backbone of stability relied upon by exporters, shippers, farmers and even consumers.  With the farm economy and so many of our constituents relying on the ability of grain and oilseeds to get to market, reauthorization of the GSA should have this one goal in mind: stability. And I mean this in a couple of ways.

Many of the provisions in current law are set to expire on September 30th of this year. A lapse in authorization would disrupt the current grain and inspections process, therefore Congress should not delay in passing its reauthorization. To do this, we need to get our work done well in advance and achieve bipartisan consensus. That is why we’re hosting this hearing more than five months ahead of the deadline.

Secondly, the GSA needs to provide stability by ensuring we can avoid disruptions like that which took place last year in Washington State. Last summer, the Washington State Department of Agriculture was providing export inspections under a delegation of federal authority at an export terminal at the Port of Vancouver. The department discontinued its export inspection amid an ongoing labor dispute.

Since labor disputes happen from time to time, this kind of situation was anticipated by our predecessors, which is why the current GSA provides a mechanism for the US Department of Agriculture to step in and provide inspection services, in the event of a disruption. However, the dispute devolved into a political situation in which the Secretary of Agriculture declined to use his discretionary authority to maintain inspections. While inspection services were eventually restored, it is incumbent on the Committee to take appropriate action to provide safeguards against a repeat of that unfortunate decision.

We have reviewed proposals from grain industry organizations and have engaged in considerable discussion with other stakeholder organizations represented on today’s panel. Likewise, majority and minority offices have worked very closely in an effort to develop bipartisan consensus in advance of a markup in the near future.

It is my understanding that discussions regarding legislative drafts are nearly concluded, and we expect to circulate those drafts for public review shortly. I hope the discussion today will confirm areas of consensus as well as provide necessary insight regarding areas where additional work may be necessary. With that, I thank the witnesses for being here today to aid us in this process, and I yield to the Ranking Member, Mr. Walz, for his opening comments.

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Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture – Public Hearing

2015/04/17

1300 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C.

Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture – Public Hearing

RE:  To review reauthorization of the Livestock Mandatory Reporting Act

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Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management – Public Hearing

2015/04/17

1300 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, D.C.

Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management – Public Hearing

RE: To review reauthorization of the U.S. Grain Standards Act

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Chairman Conaway: TPA is Important for Agriculture

2015/04/16

Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement on the introduction of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation.

“TPA will provide our negotiators with the credibility necessary to conclude the most effective trade agreements possible, by making it clear to the rest of the world that Congress and the Administration are serious about this endeavor,” Chairman Conaway said. “Trade is crucial for a growing and dynamic American agricultural sector that must maintain and increase access to the world’s consumers, 95 percent of whom live outside of our borders. We cannot sit idly by and allow others to fill consumer demand around the world.  That being said, the details of trade agreements are of utmost importance.  The Agriculture Committee will do its part to ensure they are favorable to U.S. agriculture. At the end of the day, even with TPA in place, it is Congress who decides if trade agreements will be ratified. But, passing TPA is an essential part of getting to that point.”

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Chairman Conaway supports bipartisan bill to repeal death tax

2015/04/16

Today, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1105, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015, authored by fellow Texan Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX).

"As a CPA, I know from experience that the Death Tax hurts individuals who have worked hard and saved all of their lives in order to build up a nest egg for themselves and their families. Farmers and ranchers are hit especially hard, because their assets are primarily land and equipment.  When a farmer or rancher passes away, even though he has already paid taxes on everything he owns, the sons and daughters who want to carry on the family tradition will first have to get over the hurdle of a whopping tax penalty that can reach as high as 60 percent. Why would we do that to young people wanting to stay on the farm or ranch?  The Death Tax hurts not only that next generation of farmers and ranchers, but it hobbles an important sector of our economy that creates economic activity and jobs.  A repeal of the death tax is long overdue.”     

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Contact Information

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


Membership

Ralph Abraham

LOUISIANA's 5th DISTRICT

Rick Allen

GEORGIA's 12th DISTRICT

Dan Benishek

MICHIGAN's 1st DISTRICT

Mike Bost

ILLINOIS' 12th 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

Tom Emmer

MINNESOTA's 6th 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

Steve King

IOWA's 4th DISTRICT

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Frank Lucas

OKLAHOMA's 3rd DISTRICT

John Moolenaar

MICHIGAN's 4th DISTRICT

Randy Neugebauer

TEXAS' 19th DISTRICT

Dan Newhouse

WASHINGTON's 4th DISTRICT

Mike Rogers

ALABAMA's 3rd DISTRICT

David Rouzer

NORTH CAROLINA's 7th DISTRICT

Austin Scott

GEORGIA's 8th DISTRICT

Glenn Thompson

PENNSYLVANIA's 5th DISTRICT

Jackie Walorski

INDIANA's 2nd DISTRICT

Ted Yoho

FLORIDA's 3rd DISTRICT