Committee on Agriculture

Frank Lucas

The benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America

2014/09/12

Thursday, September 18, 2014 - 11:30 a.m. 1300 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry – Public Hearing RE: The benefits of promoting soil health in agriculture and rural America

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To review the implementation of Section 4022 of the Agricultural Act of 2014: Pilot projects to reduce dependency and increase work requirements and work effort under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

2014/09/10

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 – 10:00 a.m. 1300 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. Full Committee – Public Hearing RE: To review the implementation of Section 4022 of the Agricultural Act of 2014: Pilot projects to reduce dependency and increase work requirements and work effort under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program  

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Subcommittee Examines Forest Service's Plan to Manage Groundwater

2014/09/10

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 review the U.S. Forest Service's proposed groundwater directive. The U.S. Forest Service has developed a proposal to manage groundwater resources on Natural Forest System land. This proposal manages groundwater uses, establishes new processes and procedures for special use authorizations that involve access to and withdrawal of groundwater resources, and addresses components of numerous Federal initiatives involving water, the Forest Service’s emphasis as a water agency, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary’s vision for water management in the National Forest system.

Members of the subcommittee heard from the chief of the U.S. Forest Service who explained more about the policy and potential outcomes. Other witnesses included stakeholders from state organizations and the agricultural community who discussed their perspectives and concerns about the proposal.

"The topic of water and forest management is critically important for all Americans - especially so for our farmers, ranchers, and rural communities who live off the land. I am gravely concerned that this directive would create more problems than it proclaims to solve, and will further undermine the ability of the Forest Service to carry out its management responsibilities. Furthermore, I and many others question the agency’s legal authority to regulate groundwater in the manner proposed in the directive. I strongly believe that this action is a direct infringement of the states’ authority.  I look forward to working with Chief Tidwell and the Forest Service to ensure that the concerns of states, private landowners, and users of the National Forest System, including timber producers, are addressed," said Chairman Glenn 'GT' Thompson (R-PA-5).

The National Forest System encompasses 193 million acres of Federal land – much of which is located in the headwaters and recharge areas of the nation’s streams and aquifers, and as a result, provides sources of drinking water for 66 million people in 33 States and Puerto Rico. The Forest Service issued the proposal in May with public comment until October 3.

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

Witness List:

Panel I

Mr. Thomas L. Tidwell, Chief, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

Mr. Tony Willardson, Executive Director, Western States Water Council, Murray, Utah

Mr. Don Shawcroft, President, Colorado Farm Bureau, Centennial, Colorado

Mr. Scott A. Verhines, New Mexico State Engineer, Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

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Lucas Praises House Passage of Bill to Block EPA's Latest Attack on American Agriculture

2014/09/09

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

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, by a vote of 262-152. This legislation prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing and enforcing a proposed rule that would redefine "waters of the United States" under the Clean Water Act, or using the rule as a basis for future administrative actions. It is the authority of Congress, not the administration, to change the scope of the Clean Water Act.

"I am pleased the House approved this bipartisan, commonsense bill to block the EPA from expanding its control of our nation’s land and water resources. 

"Whether it's trying to regulate farm dust out of existence, milk as oil, or now treat ditches like major water tributaries, the EPA has demonstrated a hunger for power and a lack of understanding of how its actions impact America’s farmers and ranchers. The agency's latest action would trigger an onslaught of additional permitting and regulatory requirements for our agricultural producers to protect not our great natural resources, but rather our backyard ponds. 

"It is an underhanded way to harm American agriculture and threaten America’s food security. I urge Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring H.R. 5078 to the floor for swift Senate passage," said Chairman Frank Lucas. 

 

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To review the U.S. Forest Service's proposed groundwater directive

2014/09/03

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 – 10:00 a.m. 1300 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry – Public Hearing RE:To review the U.S. Forest Service's proposed groundwater directive  

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Lucas Statement on O'Malia Departure

2014/08/08

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

WASHINGTON – Chairman Frank Lucas today released the following statement on Scott O'Malia's last day as Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Last month, O’Malia announced he would resign to pursue other opportunities.  

“Scott O’Malia never lost sight of the fact that regulatory actions have consequences both intended and unintended.  He served as a voice of reason and an advocate for a balanced approach to regulatory reform in the U.S. 

“I appreciated his leadership as chairman of the agency’s Technology Advisory Committee, which was crucial in highlighting that technology is at the center of our markets and the Commission must modernize to fulfill its responsibility. 

“I am grateful for his service and I wish him well in all of his future endeavors.”

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Subcommittee Examines Labor Department's Overzealous Use of 'Hot Goods' Provision Against Farmers

2014/07/30

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

WASHINGTON – Rep. Austin Scott, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, today held a public hearing to review the impact of enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on specialty crop growers. Specifically, Subcommittee Members addressed growing concerns that DOL is using the "Hot Goods" provision under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) in an arbitrary manner against producers of perishable agricultural commodities without regard for the inevitable destruction of the product and significant economic hardship inflicted on farmers and their employees.

FLSA prohibits the shipment, offer for shipment, or sale in interstate commerce, of any goods produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor or special minimum wage provisions. Members expressed support for ensuring fair labor standards, but took issue with the use and threat of use of the "Hot Goods" provision by the DOL. The department has a wide range of authority to compel producers and packers to reimburse workers and pay civil penalties if they are found to be in violation of the minimum wage requirements without resorting to the use of this provision, which may impact producers' due process rights.

Further, Subcommittee Members pressed the DOL witness on how they have used this provision as a means to coerce farmers into consenting to fines and waiving their right to appeal, effectively denying farmers due process. In Perez v. Pan-American Berry Growers, two Federal courts have found DOL guilty of coercion against blueberry producers in the Pacific Northwest.

"Today's hearing was important so we can shed a light on this abusive practice by the Department of Labor. We all believe it is important to provide fair wages for agricultural workers, but the Department's actions against certain growers are egregious.  They have abused a provision in the law to threaten farmers’ due process and economic livelihoods.  It is my hope that this hearing will be a step toward ending this abuse and recognizing the limits of the 'Hot Goods' provision as it relates to the agricultural sector," said Chairman Austin Scott (R-GA-8).

"A federal court has found the Department of Labor’s actions  were coercive and violated the due process of farmers which is protected by our Constitution. I am deeply troubled that the Department of Labor has appealed the ruling of the courts, and continues to maintain that their use of ‘Hot Goods’ authority on perishable items is warranted and appropriate. It is time for Congress to move forward with our commonsense fix to end this abusive practice," said Ranking Member Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5).

Chairman Scott and Ranking Member Schrader introduced H.R. 1387, which would prevent DOL from using the "Hot Goods" provision for perishable agricultural products.

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

Witness List:

Panel I

Dr. David Weil, Administrator, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Brad Avakian, Commissioner, Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Portland, Oregon

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Subcommittee Examines Ways to Expand Rural America's Access to Broadband

2014/07/29

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

WASHINGTON – Rep. Rick Crawford, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit, today held a public hearing to examine ways to improve and expand broadband in rural areas and how to better coordinate future investments between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The Agricultural Act of 2014, otherwise known as the farm bill, ensures funding for Rural Utilities Service (RUS) broadband programs is targeted to the most rural areas, sets a minimum acceptable speed for broadband service, and requires greater transparency and reporting in the program. The FCC provides direct support to offset the costs of providing service in rural areas through the Universal Service Fund (USF). Although the USF was not designed to support broadband investments, the FCC has undertaken a number of reforms to fund broadband services that can support data, video, and voice service together. Members of the Subcommittee discussed how these efforts between USDA and FCC can be better coordinated so that rural communities have greater access to services that are readily available in larger communities and urban areas.

"Rural broadband is a critical, 21st century investment for areas like the First District of Arkansas. The financial challenges that come with building out these services for rural areas should be a focus of lawmakers in both rural and urban areas of our country.  I believe that the information provided at today’s hearing will serve as a springboard to more discussions about how to increase broadband access to the area that needs it most – rural America," said Chairman Rick Crawford (R-AR-01).

"Whether it’s in my home state of California or anywhere across the country, where you live should not determine the kinds of services that are available to you. Federal programs and private service providers have made great strides in deploying broadband but I believe that the federal government, broadband providers and public institutions still have a lot of work to do in bridging the divide between the haves and have-nots when it comes to broadband in rural America," said Ranking Member Jim Costa (D-CA-16).

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

Witness List:

Panel I

Mr. John Padalino, Administrator, Rural Utilities Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

Mr. Lang Zimmerman, Vice President, Yelcot Communications, Mountain Home, Arkansas; on behalf of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association

Mr. David Cohen, Vice President, Policy, USTelecom, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Robert L. Hance, President and CEO, Midwest Energy Cooperative, Cassopolis, Michigan; on behalf of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Mr. Christopher Guttman-McCabe, Executive Vice President, CTIA – The Wireless Association, Washington, D.C.

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Subcommittee Examines Food Stamp Program

2014/07/24

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

WASHINGTON – Rep. Steve King, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Nutrition, today held a public hearing to examine the role of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in relation to other federal assistance programs. SNAP is designed primarily to increase the food purchasing power of eligible low-income households to help them buy a nutritional, low-cost diet. SNAP benefits are fully financed by the federal government; administrative costs are shared between state governments and the federal government.

In recent years, the cost of the program has increased from $37.6 billion in 2008 to nearly $80 billion in 2013. Likewise, participation in the program has grown from 28.2 million participants in 2008 to 47.6 million in 2013. Subcommittee Members used the hearing to learn more about the program, including how it addresses hunger, how it is linked to other federal programs, and how opportunities or barriers impact the ability of low-income families to secure employment and job training to lift themselves out of poverty and off of SNAP.

"No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, we can all agree on the importance of SNAP in helping those in need. However, with soaring deficits and an out-of-control national debt, we must be mindful of this grave fiscal situation. We, as Members of Congress, have a responsibility to the American people to oversee federal programs paid for by the taxpayer to ensure that they are operating in the most efficient, cost-effective manner," said Chairman Steve King (R-IA-04).

"As Members of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, and Nutrition, it is imperative that we take the time to fully understand the intricacies of SNAP and I hope this is an issue we can continue to explore as we look ahead to the next farm bill. SNAP is a powerful anti-poverty program that has been efficient, effective and highly responsive to need. Statistics show that it is operating as it should – providing a supplemental source of funds to assist families with food purchases during tough times," said Ranking Member Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11).

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

Witness List:

Panel I

Ms. Sidonie Squier, Secretary, New Mexico Human Services Department, Santa Fe, New Mexico; on behalf of the Secretary's Innovation Group

Mr. Robert Doar, Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies, American Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Stacy Dean, Vice President for Food Assistance Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Washington, D.C.

 

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To review the impact of enforcement activities by the Department of Labor on specialty crop growers

2014/07/22

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 10:00 a.m. 1300 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture – Public Hearing RE: To review the impact of enforcement activities by the Department of Labor on specialty crop growers  

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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