FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2017
CONTACT: Phillip Hayes, 202-271-5734 (cell)
From the International Sweetener Symposium:
SAN DIEGO — If there’s a silver lining to the ugly economic realities facing rural America right now, it’s that farm bills are usually easier to write when times are tough. That’s the hope of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX), who today addressed the International Sweetener Symposium.
“Overall, production agriculture has suffered a really difficult four years,” he told the group. But this backdrop makes it easier, Conaway said, to explain to others in Congress why farmers need strong policies to help manage risk.
Conaway and his colleagues on the committee have heard a lot about falling farm incomes and low commodity prices as they’ve traveled the country conducting Farm Bill listening sessions. This week, they were in Modesto, Calif., having previously visited Morgan, Minn., San Angelo, Texas, and Gainesville, Fla., to talk with producers about how the next Farm Bill should be structured.
He hopes to conclude Farm Bill hearings soon and have legislation ready for floor deliberation in late 2017 or early 2018.
“As we go through this Farm Bill, the lens I’m going to drive every decision through is what does it do to the cost of food,” he said, explaining that current farm policies are delivering “the most abundant, safest, and affordable food and fiber supply of any developed nation in the world.”
Current sugar policy is a big part of the Farm Bill, and the Chairman applauded the policy for its $0 budget and past success in keeping prices stable and affordable.
The only interruption to the no-cost operation of U.S. sugar policy in the past 15 years, Conaway explained, came after Mexico violated U.S. trade law and dumped subsidized sugar onto the U.S. market. But the U.S. and Mexican governments finalized an agreement in June designed to stop Mexico’s predatory trade practices.
Conaway heard from numerous sugar famers during the Agriculture Committee’s recent listening sessions, who thanked Congress for its continued support of U.S. sugar policy and help in bringing Mexico’s subsidized sugar industry into compliance with U.S. law. Monitoring and enforcing the agreement with Mexico will be essential, and the farmers asked Agriculture Committee members for their continued help.