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House Committee on Agriculture News

March 27, 2012

Subcommittee Explores Ways to Improve U.S. Forest Health
and Spur Job Creation in Rural America


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 several aspects affecting forest health, including timber harvests, wildlife management, invasive species, and the U.S. Forest Service’s planning rule.

Last month, the U.S. Forest Service released a report, which outlines the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) goals for forest health. In the report, the agency stated one of its goals is to increase annual timber harvests from 2.4 billion board feet to 3 billion board feet in fiscal year 2014. Subcommittee Members pressed Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell on how the agency intends to accomplish that goal while stressing the need to increase the number of timber harvests even more to create jobs, improve water quality, and prevent catastrophic wildfires from forming. Timber harvests have been in decline in recent years. The all-time high was 12.7 billion board feet in 1987, but dipped to its lowest level at 1.7 in 2002.

Witnesses on the second panel highlighted that more aggressive management practices are necessary, and more needs to be done to reduce the regulatory burden on those working in the forest products industry.

“The health of our national forests is an issue of vital importance for rural America. Not only are our national forests a source of immense natural beauty, but they provide us with natural resources, recreation opportunities, wildlife habitat, and serve as economic engines for local communities. It’s important to all of us that we have an effective plan in place that promotes healthier national forests,” said Chairman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA).

“We need to make sure the Forest Service and its partners work together to improve forest restoration and conservation while promoting a robust forest industry that supports local stakeholders and results in restored jobs and a vibrant rural economy. The Forest Service should always consider the multiple uses of our national forestland including timber production, habitat preservation, natural resource management and recreation and ensure local economic development and environmental protections work in harmony, instead of in competition, with each other,” said Ranking Member Tim Holden (D-PA).

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below.

Witness List:

Panel I

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

Panel II

Mr. Gary Barth, Director, Business and Community Services, Clackamas County, Oregon City, Oregon

Mr. Gregory Hoover, Department of Entomology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

Mr. Chuck Watkins, Chief Operating Officer, Rex Lumber, on behalf of the Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Graceville, Florida

Mr. Gary Zimmer, Coordinating Biologist, Ruffed Grouse Society, Laona, Wisconsin

House Committee on Agriculture Democrats

“The process outlined by the House Republican budget all but guarantees there will be no farm bill this year.”
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn.

The FY2013 Republican Budget Resolution cuts $179.4 billion from farm bill programs over ten years.

The Budget Resolution makes the following cuts to programs under Agriculture Committee jurisdiction:

  • Commodity Programs – $29.3 billion
  • SNAP – $134 billion
  • Unspecified – $16.1 billion (believed to be from Conservation Programs)
Red line break

The FY2013 Republican Budget Resolution includes Budget Reconciliation instructions for six Committees, including the House Agriculture Committee.

The House Agriculture Committee would be required to reduce spending over the following time periods:

  • FY 2012-13 – $8.2 billion
  • FY 2012-17 – $19.7 billion
  • FY 2012-22 – $33.2 billion

The Committee has until April 27 to provide legislation that meets these reduction targets.


Red line break

The Agriculture Committee has demonstrated that we can step up and be fiscally responsible while providing a safety net for America’s farmers and America’s hungry.

The House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership developed a farm bill proposal that would save $23 billion as part of the failed Super Committee process. The Agriculture Committees were the only Committees that even made an attempt to reduce spending and it is widely believed that this proposal will now serve as the framework to write the next farm bill.

Agriculture has remained a bright spot through the nation’s economic crisis, providing jobs to our rural communities. It simply does not make sense to dismantle a sector of our economy that is actually thriving.

Nutrition programs are now providing record numbers of struggling Americans with high-quality food. It is irresponsible that, in an effort to avoid cutting other budget areas, America’s hungry will be left hurting. All sectors of our economy need to step up to the plate.

March 28, 2012

Subcommittee Examines Legislation to Clarify
Congressional Intent of Dodd-Frank Act Provisions


WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. K. Michael Conaway, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, held a public hearing to consider three pieces of legislation designed to mitigate unintended consequences of certain provisions of Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and clarify the reach of new regulatory requirements to swaps activities that occur outside the U.S.

H.R. 3283, the Swap Jurisdiction Certainty Act would limit the extraterritorial scope of Title VII by providing a clear definition of U.S. person and non-U.S. person, and limit the application of Dodd-Frank to those activities that occur in the U.S, as Congress intended.

H.R. 1838 would modify Section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Act to ensure that the requirement for banks to “push out” certain swaps activities to separate affiliates does not increase risk to the system or drive up the costs of risk management tools for farmers and ranchers.

H.R. 4235, the Swap Data Repository & Clearinghouse Indemnification Correction Act of 2012 removes the indemnification provisions from sections 728 and 763 of the Dodd-Frank Act, and makes certain that U.S. and foreign regulators can share swaps data to increase market transparency and monitor for systemic risk.

“Getting Dodd-Frank right is more important than getting it done quickly. Examining the rulemaking process for errors, unclear instructions, or unintended consequences, and then fixing those mistakes is an essential part of our job. Today we heard about the consequences of the broad, extraterritorial approach to implementing Dodd-Frank that regulators are contemplating. This legislation will make it clear that Congress never intended for the CFTC to police the entire global swaps market,” said Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX).

“The financial market was created in the heartland to improve the commodity market, and preserve the value of bulk commodities and seasonal goods in the face of unforeseeable risk such as drought and flooding. This reliance and the integrity of our markets are critical to our nation for jobs, a healthy economy, and affordable food,” said Ranking Member Leonard L. Boswell (D-IA).

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below.

Witness List:

Panel I

Mr. Charles A. Vice, President and Chief Operating Officer, IntercontinentalExchange, Atlanta, Georgia

Mr. Paul Saltzman, President of the Association, EVP and General Counsel of the Payments Company, The Clearing House, New York, New York

Mr. Keith Bailey, Managing Director, Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities, Barclays Capital, New York, New York

Mr. Michael Bodson, Chief Operating Officer, Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation, New York, New York


March 28, 2012

The Ag Minute: Misguided Regulatory Attack
on Family Farm Must End

WASHINGTON – This week during The Ag Minute, Chairman Frank Lucas discusses the latest regulatory attack on family farms and rural America by the Obama administration. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed a regulation that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for young people to access comprehensive on-farm education and employment opportunities. Chairman Lucas is a co-sponsor of H.R. 4157, the Preserving America’s Family Farms Act that was introduced by Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA). The bill blocks DOL from implementing any regulation that would prohibit youth from working on family-owned farms.

Click here to listen to The Ag Minute. The transcript is below.

“During our farm bill field hearings, agricultural producers continue to tell us their concerns about the Department of Labor’s proposal to regulate youth working on farms.  These farmers are worried about what it could mean for the future of their family farms. They’re worried about ensuring the next generation gains the necessary hands-on experience to keep American agriculture moving forward.

“With all the top-down, stifling regulations coming out of the Obama administration, farmers are justified in their concerns. The Labor Department has said they will re-propose one part of the regulation, but that’s still not going to solve the other burdens this regulation will bring to bear that could ultimately prevent young people from working on farms.

“It’s no surprise the Obama administration has created a regulation that’s completely out-of-touch with the values and reality of rural America. I appreciate the work of the producer organizations who are leading the charge to educate the administration, Congress, and the public about the serious consequences of this proposal.

“I applaud the efforts of all my colleagues, both in the House and Senate, who continue to shine the light on this senseless regulation that was clearly crafted in the dark. Now it’s up to the Department of Labor to demonstrate some common-sense and drop it.”

The Ag Minute is Chairman Lucas’s weekly radio address that is released from the House Agriculture Committee.



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