Opening Statement of Chairman Frank D. Lucas


Opening Statement of Chairman Frank D. Lucas

Committee on Agriculture - Business Meeting To consider the Budget Views & Estimates Letter for FY2015; H.R. 935; H. Con. Res 86 commemorating Smith-Lever Act

Good morning, and thank you all for joining us to consider a few business matters before the committee. These items include the budget views and estimates letter for fiscal year 2015, consideration of H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, and a resolution commemorating the Smith-Lever Act, which established the nationwide Cooperative Extension System.

Before we begin, I’d like to thank Ranking Member Peterson for his efforts on these issues, as well as his help in enacting a new farm bill.

As we all know, getting a new farm bill on the books was the committee’s top priority for the past few years. Recognizing the dire fiscal situation this country is in, we passed a bipartisan farm bill that contributes substantially to deficit reduction while simultaneously making historic reforms to every facet of farm, nutrition, and conservation policy.

With the enactment of the Agricultural Act of 2014, our priority shifts to implementation of the new law. The committee will focus on its oversight role ensuring that the Department of Agriculture is administering food and nutrition programs in a fiscally responsible way and implementing the reforms of the new farm bill as Congress intended.

Additionally, the committee will reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) while continuing its vigorous oversight of CFTC regulations to ensure they’re not harming economic growth and job creation.

Reducing regulatory burdens on our producers remains a priority for the committee this year. Today we begin our efforts with consideration of H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act. Frankly, this is a bill that should already be law. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives in the last Congress on March 31, 2011 as H.R. 872 with a large, bipartisan vote. Additionally, it advanced out of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, but the full Senate failed to consider it.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the bill once again in this Congress as H.R. 935. This legislation is necessary to address the negative, economic consequences of the court ruling posed by the case: National Cotton Council versus the Environmental Protection Agency. Under the court ruling, producers are required to obtain a redundant permit under the Clean Water Act for the use of pesticides that are already approved for use. The court ruling defies good sense and good government. A legislative fix is needed and I hope you’ll join me in supporting this bill.

Finally, we will also consider a resolution to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914. The Act created the Cooperative Extension Service, which is an educational and research partnership between the Department of Agriculture and the nation’s land-grant universities. My alma mater, Oklahoma State University, is a part of the land-grant educational system and I am proud to celebrate its success and contributions to agricultural research and education.

With that, I’ll yield to the Ranking Member for any comments he may have.

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3.13.2014