Thompson Statement During First Public Meeting for 2013 Farm Bill Reauthorization Conference Committee

Oct 31, 2013 Issues: Agriculture, Energy

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy & Forestry today delivered the following statement during the first public meeting for the 2013 Farm Bill Conference Committee, which is charged with resolving differences between the House and Senate-passed Farm Bills. The meeting, which was held on the House side of the U.S. Capitol, featured opening statements from conferees as well as discussion of the legislation.

As prepared for delivery.

“Good afternoon. Chairman Lucas, Chairwoman Stabenow, I want to thank both of you for your hard work and dedication in this process of passing a long-term farm bill reauthorization. This conference committee is long-overdue.

Reforms have been put forward by both chambers that update and modernize our nation’s agriculture programs to help assure the long-term stability of our farms and the broader economy. 

While we are one step closer to the end goal, most would agree we still have some heavy lifting before this conference. 

I serve as chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy & Forestry, which has jurisdiction over Titles Two, Eight and Nine.

At the Subcommittee, we have spent years examining the 2008 farm bill, along with the range of other issues under our purview. 

I am very proud of the product we have put forward and passed out of the House. Through this work, we made improvements with an aim towards efficiency and value. Reforms under all three titles create savings while improving outcomes.

While many areas are similar to the Senate bill, a number are different, including: 

Provisions to address areas in our national forest system affected by invasive species and fire damage. Both the House and Senate bills address this matter through different means, but it is my hope that through this legislation we promote the health and well-being of our national forest system as effectively as possible.

The Biopreferred language in Title Nine, or what I refer to as the Forest Products Fairness Act, which has bipartisan support. Congressman Schrader (D-OR) and I along with members of the House have worked hard to promote our forestry and forest product industries.  This is a much needed change to the Biopreferred program. USDA and Secretary Vilsak welcome this change if we act on this language.

These are just a few small but key differences put forward by the House bill that are deserving of this committee’s consideration and support.  I look forward to the work in these areas.

In addition to the subcommittee’s immediate jurisdiction, I would like to make note of several differences in the broader bill, particularly under the Dairy and Nutrition Titles.

Under the Dairy Title, we absolutely must move towards a more market based system. 
Both the House and Senate bills repeal the old price support programs and shift to a margin insurance program.  However, there are bipartisan concerns that remain with the inclusion of any kind of supply management program.

I personally believe this program is the wrong approach and will only serve to further distort markets and undermine stability, while limiting innovation and industry growth. Furthermore, it could undermine final passage of this very important package.
The need for reforms to the Nutrition Title has been recognized by both chambers. These are serious issues, which have been the subject of a lot of politics from both sides of the aisle.  I am hopeful we can refrain from continuing down that road.

The goal here should be two-fold: protect taxpayers and our more vulnerable populations. I can assure you these are not mutually exclusive ideals and I am confident that we can find a compromise worthy of support from both parties and chambers.

I look forward to working with all of you as this process moves forward. I yield back.”