On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the “State of the Rural Economy” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue testifying. The hearing focused on a variety of issues ranging from crop insurance, the reorganization of the rural development office within the USDA, trade and more. Secretary Purdue made comments before answering questions from members of the committee.
In his testimony, Secretary Purdue and several members of congress stated support for expanding trade and crop insurance. “We are fortunate to live in a nation where we grow more than we consume and that’s the essence of trade,” Secretary Perdue said. He highlighted the USDA reorganization which created the Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs which will be responsible for assisting on opening new and protecting current markets as well as working to support interagency efforts with the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative.
On crop insurance, Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kans.) made note of the recent blizzards in Kansas and said, “Disasters like the ones we have had in Kansas are prime examples of reasons to have a strong farm safety net.” This sentiment was reiterated by Secretary Purdue and other members of congress. National Association of Wheat Growers President, David Schemm, said following the hearing, “Between a rapidly declining market and years of sustained low prices, farmers are having a difficultly getting by, particularly young and beginning farmers who weren’t able to build up reserves during the high price years. Funding in the 2018 Farm Bill must be increased to address the significant reductions in farm prices and income incurred since 2013.”
Other issues of importance addressed during the hearing included support for inland waterway infrastructure updates, broadband internet access in rural areas and the necessity of the rural development in the nation.