American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall spent four and a half hours before the House Agriculture Committee Tuesday outlining the challenges facing America’s farmers and ranchers. Duvall joined five other agriculture industry leaders in testifying and taking questions from lawmakers during the hearing titled “Uncertainty, Inflation, Regulations: Challenges for American Agriculture.”
“There are certainly plenty of challenges for American agriculture,” Duvall told the committee during his opening comments. “From losses experienced in the trade war with China, to pandemic lockdowns, and supply chain disruptions. Add to it the record-high supply costs, and you see how farmers and ranchers have faced unprecedented volatility in recent years.
“USDA’s most recent Farm Sector Income Forecast sees a decrease in net farm income in 2023, down 15.9%. Adjusted for inflation, that’s an 18% drop. The same report estimates farm and ranch production expenses will continue to increase – by $18 billion. This follows a record increase of $70 billion in 2022.”
President Duvall also highlighted regulatory hardships facing farmers, including restricted access to pesticides, the new Waters of the United States rule, a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission emissions reporting rule and shortcomings in the H-2A labor program.
He also shared opportunities to strengthen farms through voluntary climate-smart programs, increased meat processing competition and the passage of a unified farm bill.
“It is important that we understand how important the safety net is for agriculture so that we will have the food to be able to use in the safety net for the people that are not as fortunate as others during…periods of their lives,” Duvall said when Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) asked him about keeping nutrition programs in the food bill. “So, I think they go together well. It gives us a true picture of the food, where it’s produced and where a lot of it’s consumed and making sure that those people have access to good quality food.”
On a question from Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) on the importance of trade, President Duvall replied, “Anytime the field in the arena of trade is leveled and we have access to those markets it helps our farmers and ranchers tremendously. We’re always working to encourage trade across the world, and we just think there are some great opportunities, especially in the Asia Pacific areas.”
Watch the full hearing here.
Read President Duvall’s opening remarks here.
Read the AFBF written testimony here.
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