During a recent hearing to examine the health of the rural economy, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) noted that farm income has plummeted 56 percent since 2013. That, he said, represented the worst stretch since the depression of the ’30s.
“In short, we have a very serious problem unfolding right now in rural America,” the Chairman explained during his opening remarks. “The farmers that I talk to from across the country tell me that they are very concerned that they do not see the kind of circumstances that are going to come along and end this downturn any time soon. They are also concerned that even as the prices they receive plummet, the prices they are paying for inputs remain as high as ever.”
Sugar producers are feeling it too, and that economic pain has led to job loss. Two announcements have rocked the sugar world since the start of the year, including the closure of a Wyoming beet factory and the decision to end sugar production in Hawaii altogether.
As the two charts below clearly demonstrate, Conaway’s thesis that low commodity prices combined with rising input costs are big reasons why.
“So, what can we do,” Conaway questioned. “For Congress’ part, I believe it is our duty, our responsibility to hold the line on the Farm Bill and…draw a hard line against attacks that would undermine these laws and further jeopardize our nation’s farmers and ranchers.”
In other words, beat back attempts by Big Candy and opponents of agriculture to cripple America’s no-cost sugar policy and cut holes in the farm safety net.
Conaway further urged the Administration to aggressively fight the rising tide of foreign subsidies and trade-distorting policies that are manipulating the market.
In other words, do exactly what is prescribed by the Zero-for-Zero sugar policy resolution.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for eloquently voicing the concerns of so many farmers and ranchers today. And thank you for your continued leadership during these troubled times.