tv Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Testifies on Rural Economy CSPAN March 1, 2019 8:00pm-11:56pm EST
official meeting of the committee and we appreciate you all being here, appreciate the secretary being willing to join us, we have plenty of ground to cover today and i'm sure there will be all kinds of questions, that i'm glad that you have to answer and not me. the secretary a look forward to hearing your outlook on the farm economy in the coming year, your take on the implementation on the farm bill, an update on the overall health of the department. any other thoughts you would like to share with us? before we move on i would like to take a second to talk about the money. your visits to the committee over the last few years have come roughly at the same time that the white house has called for billions of dollars of cuts and usda programs. this year it appears it's no different. just this week the layouts called for a 5% cut to non-
defense spending and while this is concerning on its own, it's compounded by your comments that this number may potentially be as high as 10% or higher. that worries me a lot and given the broad range of challenges we are confronting as farmers, ranchers and working families, we are concerned about that. as you know things have not gotten any better in farm country. so, whatever you can tell us about where that process is asked, i have no doubt that you are on our side, that you are concerned about our farmers and ranchers, you have a role to play we understand that so i just like your take on things, as these incomes continue to be down and the prices continue to be down and decline, the wins
on the trade, if not materialize, the bankers told me they're not going to be financing people, we are just concerned about where we are heading and whatever you can tell us in that regard will be helpful. when it comes to the farm bill the main thing i have been focusing on is the dairy provisions, i'm very proud of what we are able to do in the farm bill for dairy and i think the chairman for his help and the other committee members. what i am concerned about his the dairy people were so soured on the l program that it's difficult to get them to look at the new program. we have a couple farmers going out of business every week or every month and what i'm worried about is we get the message out to these people that this is a different world we are facing with these new
provisions in the farm bill. i have had some people tell me that the safety net we put in there is actually too good. you are going to have 950 above feed cost which is 1750 milk that you can get for a pretty reasonable price. i'm doing what i can to get this message out, i have been talking to the co-ops, to get the word out to dairy farmers, if you are thinking about pulling the plug, give us a couple months until we can roll out this program before you make a decision. i think if you look at what is in this bill, it will change your mind and i think the future for dairy is actually pretty good given this new safety net. so whatever the department can do to help us with that message, it's going to be probably early summer before you get these regulations written but they will be
retroactive as i understand it until the first of the year. we have some information for any of you on the committee to show what you would have gotten last year if this program would have been in effect in 2018. if you have 5 million pounds of milk and you signed up for the whole thing it would cost you about five grand to get almost $100,000 worth of benefits. if the program would have been in place last year. i just hope that we can all talk to our dairy farmers and make sure that they factor that in before they go off and make a decision that's going to be irreversible. when we lose these dairy folks is hard to replace, it's hard to get the expertise and what it takes to be a dairy farmer. the farm bill also provides resources to small communities for broadband and we hope that will be focused on people that
don't have broadband and not overbuilding the system there has been help for mental health and substance abuse which are problems in rural areas, as i said what does not help us take an indiscriminate lack of this funding, we will do whatever we can to help convince the administration that this is not a good idea and we will see where all that goes. i hope that you have good news to share with us today and if there is some blue sky among the clouds that i mentioned, i expect you're going to do that again today, always a defender of the programs at usda and we appreciate that, we look forward to your comments and with that i recognize your
distinguished member of the committee from conley.>> i appreciate you hearing us on the farm economy thank you for being here with us as well, earlier during consideration i commented on the extremely difficult conditions at farm and ranch country. as i said i wish we could have strengthened the safety net but folks had different ideas about what to spend money on. in any event worsening conditions certainly weren't our close attention. thankfully there are some things we can do right now to improve conditions and farmer ranch country and i believe that it's just the tip of the spear on this front. he critically defended the axis for our farmers and ranchers gain while the agreement was approved upon under the u.s. and ca. if we truly want to help our united nations farmers and ranchers and the economy, it
should be a priority of every member of congress. i know you're working hard to ensure there's a successful resolution to the ongoing trade dispute with china, a resolution that will help level the playing field for the dates and required china to live by the same rules we do. i greatly appreciate the initiative you talk to provide farmers and ranchers the facilitation program to help them weather the unjustified italian retaliatory and tariff that have been opposed. behind you in your efforts to unwind all the arbitrary and revelatory burdens that have been heaped upon our farmers and ranchers during the prior ministrations and its climate change. expanding markets, a strong safety net are essential to help a rural america and you have worked hard to ensure all three. i look forward to talking about how we can improve and the lives of all americans.
farmers and ranchers in rural america are still the back of our country and if we keep them strong we will also have a muscular country. i know you sure this conviction and i look for your testimony. >> to notify the members that you are going to be put in order by seniority based on the fact that you were here when the gavel was struck. anybody that comes in later will be put down the list and you will keep your place if you have to step out as long as you get back here in time, you will keep replacing the line and try to work this in an orderly fashion and make sure everybody has a chance to weigh in. mr. secretary thank you for being with us so that we appreciate it, we know you have a tough job and i was dealing
with some of your constituents this last week and i know they are having a very tough time, so we appreciate what you do and we want to be supportive and helpful with the usda to complete their mission. >> a good partnership with this committee. as well as your members. i come willingly. i thought it was better than being subpoenaed. but nonetheless, you stated the obvious, the form farm economy, we know it's tough out there. >> you stated the obvious, coming to speak about the farm economy we know it's tough out there and you mentioned one sector that has probably run into more duress than any in
the industry and will talk about that more later on. we know that the farm income has fallen about 50% over the last five years, there are very few businesses that can survive that kind of revenue decrease. that's from 2013, most commodity prices have fallen while global stop levels due to good growing seasons around the world primarily in other places have rebounded with several years of record production. working capital almost like any business depending on working capital to fund their operations, about 70% decrease since 2012. rising rapidly over the last five years increasing by 30% since 2013 but fortunately we are not to the levels of the
80s, i don't think we will get there but what you have done has been a great safety net primarily to enable our farmers to be better risk managers. one indication of that is for land values, that have kept asset levels relatively low by historical standards and certainly our lowest interest rates over the last number of years have helped as well. we are projecting a income of 77.6 billion, that is an increase from last year, not including the facilitation program but it remains to be seen in farming, as you well know it is never over until the check is in the bank so many things can happen regarding
disasters. the current state of rural economy leads many produces were honorable to market disruptions including legal territory tariffs and disasters as we said. overall i think the new farm bill fulfills a primary goal helping farmers, ranchers, manage risk and continue to producing food and videos as well as taking care of our consumers and food safety in many ways as well. we were honored to participate in the deliberation of the farm bill last year, i was very proud of our team providing over 2000 items of technical assistance both to the majority and minority in that area, we believe that you all gave a good product and the end of the day. you were eager to implement that farm bill.
our deputy secretary is already leading those efforts, we have since the beginning even prior to the signing, i had some heads up about some of the provisions there. we actually continue during the shutdown so we are following a process similar to the one usda put in place to implement the 2014 farm bill. farm bill implementation goes forward and as the signing of the bill and catalog provisions requiring action assigning the responsible agencies and finalize timelines for implementation. they have already begun on how to best implement the provisions, yesterday production and conservation
group held a public session, over 600 people were there and many others joined by the internet. these formal and informal sessions will continue. although not under direct jurisdiction of that committee these are the top three legislative issues that farmers continue to raise as i travel, i think we will have some discussion about that today. a legal workforce, labor is becoming more difficult to attract in most areas of the country. i don't hear of any people flush with the agricultural labor in that regard. we are continuing to work on regulations to keep it safe but make it productive and in certain regions of the country from california to florida to carolina to georgia are the disaster programs.
in conclusion as i traveled across the country and faxed to 48 states since may 2017, we will finish up the last two this year, it is important for us to get out among them and look them in the eye and hear directly from them. i found an honorable hard- working workforce when we got there. our goal that drives us every day is to be the most effective, most efficient and customer focused agency in the government. as we work to implement the farm bill we want to keep in mind our motto that we think what drives us and all of we do is to be right and feed everyone, thank you for the opportunity to testify and i look forward to discussions with your members.>> thank you
for that. i have talked to you a month ago or so about the situation in china and my constituents are still very concerned about this, they are worried about grandmothers bringing meat in from china has it been any significant upgrade at the airports, where these flights are coming in from mainland china to make sure we don't have this potential? as far as i understand it if this gets into the united states it's going to put us out of business. are we on the ball here? >> i think we are but there is no doubt that the mobility of society there is no way to guarantee that, i think our
animal health inspection service is on the job at borders working with border patrol, using obviously dogs, in order to sniff out incoming travelers particularly in those areas that we fear but the past transmission is a real concern always, we are ever vigilant about that. we feel we got a good protocol in place, we are working with our primary threats although they are not evident. we both enjoyed very long borders and we work with those countries, we are going to
ottawa to the end of me to collaborate on our protocols making sure we are all aware and doing the same thing. inspection and checking, i think we are doing that. something like this, there is just no way to guarantee bus i think we are doing everything possible at this time to be as preventive as possible, the mobility of our population in the unit states as you well know, many of these pigs are born elsewhere and are transferred to be fed out in other parts of the country and there are a lot of things on the road at any given time which makes it very difficult. unlike a regionalization or a concept in poultry where you can identify and encapsulate the mobility of our population. i believe we are doing
everything we can.>> i'm glad to hear that and whatever we can do to help. you were last weekend in illinois mri? i guess you indicated that you are going to reopen the crp sign up by the end of the summer, is that just continuous or does that include a general sign up?>> we begin with the continuous if i can refer the notes i have some notes about when to expect those deadlines, the answer to the question is you well know and these regulations on top of all the things we do are based on how we have wrapped ourselves in a lot of checks and balances in this world is very difficult,
we expect all the pieces on the general sign up to be first, they will be available sooner than that.>> i know that's an interest of yours and i think the things you have done with the whole field and contribution over a short-term, it makes a real purpose on the healthy lands and keeping these fragile lands with the wildlife growth and others will be helpful.>> we will have to see how this plays out but i have been concerned that all of the focus has been on continuous and there has been no focus on general sign up which is a big mistake and especially for wildlife, big field crp is what
made wildlife come back. the reason we're losing it is because we are losing those big track crp in my opinion but anyway, i'm over my time but your implementation as i understand it you're hoping to get that done by june is that correct? >> let me give you the dates on our dairy margin. we think that we will have sign- up beginning june 17 if that is specific enough, we make these predictions, we are not totally in control, whether it's significant or not significant, these are what we think we can achieve. the interesting thing you'll add on prior premiums we think we can get that out in april,
and the end of april on the refund beginning there. we think the calculator for farmers to calculate would be ready in the middle of april and we think that they can begins receiving the payments up to them and the challenges we have had on calculate, in the last 14 farm bill in order to get people served quickly they use paper recording there so it's not electronic it is much more laborious to go back on the first two years and calculate and add, still in business, really a lot of manual administrating work that has to be done on almost the first two years. i think we could achieve even
faster results if we did not have that provision.>> thank you very much.>> your predecessors have shied away from reorganizing the department. you have semen to take this head on over some of the decisions you made but some of them seem pretty rational to me. one of those was to create f back, will you please provide an update on the process and are those efforts improving program delivery and customer service?>> thank you sir i think again while many people misunderstood our motives initially on that, we begin with the premise that if we are going to be customer focused we need to not have customers here reporting the different lines of reporting there and having an rcs with the for service we
made sense to have in line with our offices and created fpack farm production and conservation mission area with a single secretary who was the secretary of agriculture in iowa, i have been very pleased with the assimilation after the early problems i have been very pleased with the results we hear from internal and external customers. our customers have given good accolades that one specific example during the shutdown as you recall mandatory programs were funded and they were in the offices co-located in many places, helping answer farmer
questions there even though they could not do the work, they work together and helps them catch up that way so i think it is a joint effort, the primary focus is serving customers whether it be from conservation issues or signing up for programs or loans for the fsa office. i think by all accounts the combination has been a success.>> so all the resources needed to be able to combine those the resources should have made that happen.>> it does not move as fast as many of us would like but we are making progress on that. our goal initially was to have one application, we have had different between risk management or crop insurance, different criteria in different blocks. what we are trying to do is
have some commonality there where people can look from a crop insurance to an essay application and have some of the common things filled out there where farmers will not be asked to go fill out all three and these different units sometimes one uses acres, it is a lot of things to work together, the business is making progress on that and hopefully will have that soon, probably early 2020.>> would you give us your thoughts on usmc a, where is that for production agriculture and your perspective on the radio?>> certainly it's a very important trade agreement and like any negotiated agreement you don't get anything any side wants in
that regard, if you remember when we began this process there was a big sucking sound from all of agriculture in the u.s. that said don't withdraw, nafta has been relatively good for agriculture and i think we would agree with that. fact is there were some things that have been left out or committed to a better deal, if one is honest and looking at the agreement basically in every sector in every section and every chapter you will find an improvement from labor to agriculture to provisions to intellectual property to electronic trading, to rules of origin, but for agriculture it has improved. i think certainly there are people in some parts of the country both in the
southernmost part in florida and georgia we are not able to get the seasonal and perishable provisions they wanted. i can tell you they promulgated those until the very end and that's trading day that fell off but by and large are continuing to work on agreements where they can still have their day in court regarding a duty situation on those products but i think all in all the agreement is improved and i hope that we can all look at the objectivity of it and understand this is in the best interest of the united states america economy. if you would like me to continue on the 232 terrace i can do that or later.>> thank
you for your solid service to rural america, thank you.>> mr. secretary first i want to thank you. for the great work and partnership that you provided in helping us get the $80 million for the african- american 1890s land-grant colleges and universities. $80 million in the farm bill, thank you so much. i can't tell you how appreciative we all are. while i'm at it please say hello to my good friend your cousin senator david who provided a sterling leadership in the senate. what an extraordinary bipartisan program we have started together. thank you for that, deeply
appreciated. now mr. secretary i am very disturbed, i'm very frustrated with the treatment or lack of treatment of our farmers with these national disasters. according to the university of georgia, georgia has suffered 2.8 alien dollars in losses. on top of that we have got to do something. this is terrible. agriculture is the single most important industry we have. it is the very foundation of this country. it still is. you recognize that. you travel to all 50 states and
you know that in 44 of those states it is agriculture and agriculture businesses that is the largest share of these states economies. it's the food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear. shelter, what can be any more important to us than that but right now mr. speaker, sorry mr. secretary we have got to sound the alarm bigger. if we don't get payments down to our georgia farms by april we lose the planning season. that means two years that we are losing the planning season just coming from one natural disaster, hurricane michael. and in the last three years we have had three different, back
to back. in 2060 we had hurricane matthew, 2017 hurricane irma, 2018 we had hurricane michael and some of our georgia farmers have not had a crop since 2015. if that's not enough to get us moving here. i know you share the frustration that many of us do. we have been up here beating a drum left and right but this stuff has to stop. we have farmers hanging on by their fingernails. the suicide rate among farmers is alarming. and our dairy farmers particularly but all over. please tell us what is it we have got to do from your
standpoint to get the respect and the dignity that our farmers deserve and help them. >> i would probably be better off just saying it will stop is harder seeing you and your colleague heartwarming to see you and your colleague on the same team. we know you have constituents there, i thought congress did a wonderful job, we did i thought i extraordinary job in administering the program there. you have no difference and i think it is a sad state of affairs that we have not cared for the 2018 victims as we did earlier. i believe there is still time to do that. you said we needed sooner
rather than later, i hope we can do it even before april. i know the senate has dropped a bill that does take care of that. we were frankly disappointed because it has been most versions prior to the last times and hopefully we can see that restored. i think it's the right thing to do. frankly it's the necessary thing to do from your observation i appreciate your passion about that. i certainly appreciate your passion about the scholarship money that was done, you killed the bear and i was there and watched but we appreciate your passion and that, i'm happy that we agreed very early on that these are students that we want to incorporate into the future of agriculture and i think we are making good progress there. i have been to many of the
schools and they have some great programs. they are doing good work so we look forward to utilizing the extra money, i'm glad to see you presuming you $40 million from the appropriators so we are going to see how that works out. nonetheless we are going to do a good job with that but i want to echo your comments to your colleagues primarily and i know the messages to all of us. this disaster must be done, it must be done soon or there will be some real harm.>> gentlemen mr. scott. >> guess what i want to talk about. secretary it's always good to see you. you mentioned the seasonal issues with the dumping,
obviously for the farmers that i represent that is the number one concern, that there are no provisions in the current draft that would keep mexico from dumping it at a subsidized price so that something i would love to have further discussions about. i appreciate the fact that you brought that up without having to be asked about it. the number one issue right now, i get more phone calls from bankers i'm getting from farmers these days about disaster relief and i know you were there with the president october 15 and vice president october 16, when our vice president who i very much like and respect made a statement we
will be with you until we succeed, i believe that was what he said. certainly there was a sense of relief that came across when those statements came. i know the bill has been introduced, i know the sender we saw him on monday, senator isaacson indicated they will push the lesson as possible. we thank the committee for the work for helping us plus the amount available to agriculture available to the number reasonable in regard to what the lawsuits are but i am at a loss for what to tell my
people. when i get off of i 75 i drive past these fields. i drive past these farmers homes. i know these people. we go to church with them. i have been telling them since october nothing is -- help is coming and i honestly don't know what to tell them anymore. it feels like a broken promise back home to the people when we just keep saying help is coming. >> i think that is certainly understandable. i believe based on what we were all led to believe if this money was in that appropriation bill and was removed in the crisis of whatever i don't know what it does any good to do the forensics on a blame game to a
diagnosis, i think we have to go forward and use the structure before us to cure this as quickly as possible so we don't have to answer those questions very long. they are reasonable, not only as you said producers but there financer asking when they will be able to pay out loans for people that had great crop. we know we have a good safety net in the farm bill but things like pecan trees and timber, even losing the bumper crop and cotton that was blown away, the safety net there does not replace, i think we just need to go forward expeditiously as quickly as this congress can move to rectify what was i think a significant leave out of the previous appropriation there. i do believe your colleague and
appropriate her is very interested in that. we do appreciate others, if you look back at how we expended the program for 2017 i think you will find we did a very judiciously and frankly there have been little complaints that i'm aware of since that time and we expedited that. we got the money in the hands of the people that needed the most.>> the checks and balances were there with that system. we provide a relief that is necessary but were not making somebody more than hole prior to the storm. i know you feel the pain as i
do, when you go home you live in the eighth district, just any help with getting this thing expedited would be appreciated. >> having explains last year designing the program i think we are way ahead of the curve, it will not take us nearly as long to implement and get money into those hands even though that was quick i think it will be a very similar type of program. we think we have a better idea of how to do that.>> thank you gentlemen and as i said in the opening statement i will do anything i can do to know how much anybody will pay attention to me but whatever good it will
do, gentlemen from california. >> mr. chairman i always pay attention to you and for the ranking member this is an important hearing for our house agriculture committee to get a report early in the year by our secretary of agriculture to discuss the status of the challenges american agriculture is facing and there are many. we know the farm economy is suffering not only across the country but in california as well. as a new subcommittee chair and members of the subcommittee we intends to early on hold a hearing as it relates to the challenges facing the industry and the changes in the program that you cited earlier in your comments. the timeline that you laid out to us i think will be probably good as it relates to better
understanding how we attempt to address the economic challenges, the loss of liquidity affecting dairy not only in california but around the country, so we look forward to coordinating with you on that timeline and on that very important subcommittee hearing probably in april i would guess. let me also cite to you that on february 1 a significant portion of the delegation sent you a letter about devastating forest fires that have impacted the entire west. the department of forestry has responsibility for coordinating with individual states, the question we cited in the letter we sent to you about a month ago was trying to determine the impact of the 35 days of the government shutdown, the closure as it relates to
contracts that had been noted for hiring, training, firefighting personnel and efforts put on hold for 35 days. we have not received a response and would certainly like, i think i can speak for the delegation, would like to find out where we are on that because obviously after the winter we will have another fire season that we will have to contend with. if you can give us an idea when you can get some answers to us on the questions that we asked. >> absolutely, new accountability terms in our office and responses, as you finish i will do my best to give you a verbal answer.>>
last week canadian ambassador david to the united states economic advisor larry redacted the administration could predict tariffs on steel and aluminum in a matter of weeks. i don't need to tell you that the retaliation of u.s. agriculture is have been incredibly difficult to our producers. dairy producers, processors, i have a significant processor that you met when you came to california last year, 20% of his product goes to mexico. we have products that are in decline in china and india, exports to canada, the list goes on. 44% of california agriculture depends on foreign trade. the president admitted last week that the strategy was to improve the increase of tariffs on canada and mexico, that's also impacted our european
allies. i think that strategy is a mistake, i was in mexico for the inauguration they simply said look we are willing to reduce our tariffs but we want you to pass usmc and that is our only leverage. my question to you is whether pursuing new markets and trade deals which we need to do with japan and we need to resolve with china, where are we with regards to usmca and these tariffs, can you confirm that they have handed on they will finally remove these tariffs in the next few weeks. >> i can confirm we have had discussions with my contemporaries both in canada and mexico regarding the interest of all three countries to ratify usmca which we all believe would need to have the
232 tariffs resolve as well. >> that's their only leverage, they wanted to pass, we wanted to pass but we need to get going.>> certainly, i think again, the removal of the tariffs i think is in the interest of all and we are advocating to the administration to do that. the president has responsibility for the whole economy, he began the 232 investigation demonstrating a weakness in our steel and aluminum sector, the potential for that.>> the 80% target has been met.>> and i think what we are moving towards is a resolution over the tariffs possibly to be replaced by reasonable quotas with canada and mexico and will have those
retaliatory tariffs removed. >> we look forward to continuing to work with you my time has expired but this is a critical issue obviously for american agriculture as you know.>> i might respond on the for service regarding your russian i think overall the hiring program while we were concerned about that preparing for the 2019 fire service our undersecretary and chief tell me that they have regained the momentum that way and we don't think there will be any permanent harm. in the appropriation bill sophia to suppress forest fires this past year was not refilled, that has been typically done over $720 million that we took from operations to help prevent forest fires in suppressing forest fires. that is money that we need to fill that back so we can continue to have those things you authorize us to do. >> duly.
we will work with our friends in the committee. thank you. >> thank you. with our friends on the appropriations committee. thank you gentlemen. now mr. crawford. >> thank you mr. chairman, mr. secretary i appreciate you being here today. i think my colleagues are drinking muddy water because i cannot see them through. >> the red river valley. >> exactly a to them a second to determine what i was talking about their. we worked on a deal in the farm bill a last time around to remove the sandman duns requirement and i know you're working on that, thank you for that i know that will go a long way. i wanted to ask if there was specificallyom other regulatory initiatives that you are undertaking right now that might also provide some relief to farmers? >> will i think working on, i believe we have the sam's done issue that was very troubling i think we have that done in the
good news is farmers don't have to do that any longer. that was an unnecessary provision. i think the usoverall managemen of being most effect event efficient rather regulation policy -- ongoing working on making us better customer servants there, the people who depend on us for the farm bill. many things you talk about from a regulatory standpoint have to do with regulation of the farm bill. we are trying to make it as user-friendly as possible. labor is a great issue they are over the h 2a program. we are working with the department of labor on having to advertise on several counties and regions to qualify to get h 2a provisions. sort of a turbotax type portal where the farmer can come there and fill out the information. we send that to labor, dhs and
secretary of state department in order to as the primary statutory provisions on each to a to help do that we think that will be a big help. a still statutory changes made in the labor force but that is one area we are trying to work on as well in order to get people the labor they need on their -- >> my colleagues have mentioned the usmca and you address that as well but give me your get assessment of what happens if we don't close the deal on usmca? >> i don't like to think about that. >> i don't either. >> i think it will be devastating and i hope everyone in all 434 of your colleagues understand the threat it would be to the u.s. economy, especially the agriculture economy if we don't ratify that. i hope frankly everyone here,
who i believe is well intended, will put the partisan politics aside to vote for the benefit of the country and ratifying the usmca. >> let me just ask you finally , if you don't have enough time to answer this completely -- just give me your assessment of the green new deal. there are estimates it will cost a ton of money we don't have. certainly what we know is that farmers are active environmentalists as opposed to environmental act of-ists, so i think we can count on farmers to do the right thing with regards to protecting the environment. give me your assessment on the green new deal as proposed and what the impact might be on agriculture in general? >> you are right i don't have time to answer that, but aside from giving me a can of pepto- bismol am not sure we what we can do. >> i want to commend you again on doing a fantastic job.
it is very satisfying to see the right person in the right job at the right time, and you are certainly that person, so thanks so much for what you do. >> thank you gentlemen. the lady from ohio. >> thank you u very much mr. chairman and thank you so much mr. secretary for your testimony. mr. secretary under your leadership usda has implemented a series of what i really believe are kind ceof half-bake puzzles to reorganize the department and introduce harmful regulations that we have had to come behind you and correct. in may 2017 you eliminated the position of undersecretary for rural development. congress restored it, permanently in the farm bill. in august 2018 you proposed the relocation of brs and -- as well as decided to put ers under the chief economist. justin our most recent appropriations bill the language
delays this because we want to be sure you are doing this in a way that makes some sense. and we have requested that you provide cross estimates and a detailed analysis to show us the plan before you can proceed. this past december you issued a proposal on -- and it is my understanding you are getting ready to develop another rule to limit categorical eligibility. congress debated these proposals just last year during the farm bill. they were rejected. you call it a missed opportunity, we call it an intentional rejection. it is important to me to try to understand what your disdain is for poor people, or people who have fallen on hard times, or people who are just living on the edge. because what you are doing in these proposals are hurting those very people. further, you have tried to circumvent other rules and this one in particular really bothers me. there is a woman her name is
naomi churchill -- who has been nominated for the position of assistant secretary for civil rights. this is a person who couldn't even get confirmed to be an eeoc commissioner. this is a person who the entire civil rights community has said is not tgood for civil rights, so i'm not sure if you really are interested in civil rights or if you just want the person is you want them for some other reason. but i am concerned that now you have made her a deputy to go around the process of confirmation. it is just difficult for me to figure out where you are going, and if in fact you really do care about underserved communities, about people who have had problems with the department, or those who have difficulty finding a job. my first question to you mr. secretary is with your new -- rule what percentage of a boz
are veteran, homeless, physical or mental limitations, lack access to transportation or need language interpretation t that would tell me how many people you are talking about. >> i don't have those statistics in front of me today, i can get them for you. i would disrespect -- i would respectfully disagree with some of your conclusions. if we begin with the secretary of rural development as you mention we still don't have a confirmed secretary in two other important issues along with miss naomi -- in civil rights.ed all three very qualified people caught it -- we wanted to get quickly on rural development. the farm bill created in undersecretary of trade that had not been filled because there was not money appropriated for that we move that to the secretary of trade because we thought -- and hayes from the senate committee.
>> reclaiming my time. you thought that but the congress he makes these decisions didn't think that. >> i think that was under the purview of the usda to do that man. >> we put it back in the farm bill so -- >> i look forward to having a confirmed undersecretary for rural development. i welcome that, there was no provision to do that prior to that. you had 7 and we needed 8. >> that sounds like a problem within your department's are. congress determined what we wanted to see and that is what we expect to see. >> i'm happy to have the eighth i appreciate that, and we will certainly comply with that. >> i'm reclaiming my time, you say you complied with it but you turned around and tried to -- a rule that is in direct conflict is something we just put in the bill last year. >> i do think it was a missed opportunity and since you brought that up i'd like to give you a rcouple of quotes from a former democratic
president, when this bill was signed for instant, president clinton said i made my principles real well and very informed from the beginning. first and foremost it should be about moving people from welfare to work. it should impose time limits on welfare, it should give people all they need in order to go to work. this legislation meets these principles to give them the chance we haven't had before the break the cycle of dependency that has existed for millions and millions of fellow citizens, exiling them from the world of work to give them structure, meaning and dignity. >> my time is up mr. secretary. let me suggest to you president clinton was in office 20+ years ago. secondly the economy has changed and thirdly and more importantly you cannot tell me -- i give back my time. >> i'd like to quote from another president in office long before that, franklin delano roosevelt who said the lessons of history show
conclusively that continued dependency upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration that is fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. >> thank you young lady. the gentleman from -- let me see here, tennessee. >> thank you chairman. secretary sonny perdue we are very grateful to have you here today. so many of my friends back in tennessee at the tennessee farm bureau, tennessee cattlemen , etc. have been so pleased with the tenderness you've shown to tennessee making many trips there and they are very grateful for your service and we thank you for that. one concern we have in our district and i'm sure many others here is the rural areas have continued to struggle with insufficient internet connectivity and broadband service. can you talk about the new changes made in the farm bill to improve rural broadband as well as the usda's plan to bridge the digital divide? >> i appreciate this question very much i think it is having
the potential to transform rural america to bridge the urban/rural divide with conic video and data access, certainly in telemedicine, distance learning, rural economics of entrepreneurship as well as precision agriculture. i think we need a moonshot of broadband connectivity all over the country not just in tennessee but in every hamlet and field around this nation and i think the sooner we get there the better off the economy of the country will be. we have taken the $600 million that you all appropriated last year and developed a very good program based on those unserved areas, not duplication, for applications. people are busy doing their applications, we have given them information and we hope to receive the applications very soon to deploy these and demonstrate to you all that usda can get the job done regarding rural broadband connectivity. >> what is the timeframe?
>> yes, the applications should be accepted around may 1st. >> excellent. as you are aware, i want to turn to rural lending for a minute. credibility is crucial to farmers, ranchers and forest owners. there has been some concern in my district over the lending branch of the usda. what is the usda doing to make sure offices are staffed and ready to meet the needs of producers? >> obviously labor and workforce continues to be at the forefront. we cannot get things done without appropriate people to do that. we continue to work, we authorized a hiring plan and you probably are aware that it is not the most easy place to on board workers into the federal government. but we are aggressively pursuing on a niche base every area we try not to put cookie- cutter approach but look at every fsa office to make sure they have the people to meet
the needs but that is a continuing challenge. >> speaking of labor and workforce that's one common i hear from people in my district time and time again they are thankful for the booming and robust economy and frustrated about insufficiencies in the workforce. can you discuss usda's proposed rules that would -- and how this would foster self- sufficiency and bolster the workforce? >> as part of the previous conversation we think again helping people, we believe the purpose of the welfare system should help people to become independent rather than permanent dependency. we believe it does this with 6 1/2 million people unemployed and over 7 million jobs out there. we think, again, from the 20 hours a week of training or volunteer even or working people, have a job that they
still qualify for snap they will be eligible to get food assistance in that way. we think we are helping people to again move into the dignity of work and the respect of providing for their families. >> it amazed me that that was taken out of the farm bill went across the country over 80% of people agree with this concept whether you are democrat, republican, people believe able- bodied people who cam work should work. do you have any idea why there may be so much pushback and concerns on this measure? can you clarify to help alleviate that issue? >> i have no clue. >> me either, thank you for your time. >>ir tanks gentlemen. the gentleman from massachusetts. >> thank you mr. chairman and welcome mr. secretary. i was here the first time you testified back in may 2017. as you know i care very much about the issue of food insecurity and hunger. and i asked you a question back then, i said i'm looking for some assurances that you are a
strong defender of the program snap, that you're not abdicating structural changes or putting more hurdles in place to make it more difficult for people to get food because it is a concern that a lot of people in this country have. so i'd be interested in hearing your views on what you plan for snap and i thought your answer was brilliant. you began with mr. mcgovern i agree with you. >> and i still do. >> then you went on to talk about how you support the program and you ended with, but as far as i'm concerned we have no proposed changes. you don't try to fix things that aren't broken, and when the motto is due right and feed everyone, i view that as very inclusive. and i was comforted by that. but like my colleague miss fudge , i'm concerned about some of the actions by the department, especially in the aftermath of the farm bill which reject did
some of the issues that have here by my colleague from tennessee. and that's with regard to able- bodied adults without dependents. just, by the way, the reason if the gentleman were still here i tell him the concern that many of us have is this is a very complex population. this is not a bunch of people hanging around doing nothing trying to take advantage of government programs. this population includes returning veterans who are having a difficult time reintegrating into our society. it includes young people who have recently aged out of foster care. includes people recovering from opioids and individuals subject to mass incarceration. and i also want to say to the gentleman who left, and mr. secretary to you, you mentioned we don't want to encourage a life of dependency on these
programs. that's not the reality. i mean the average person on snap is on the benefit for less than a year. and that is according to your own statistics in your department. and so i am concerned about the proposals that you are putting forward. your language in the proposed rule i think continues to stigmatize people on snap and it locks states from using their own discretion in waiving work requirements. different states have different needs and as we all know this would especially create a crisis in rural areas. able-bodied adults who are dependent are already a vulnerable demographic that would be further immobilized if you take their food away. my question thto you is was the any specific research f and s used to justify this rule change? >> [ indiscernible - low volume ] -- i still think that we agree on many of those things.
i do believe that what i said earlier regarding dependency, i agree with president roosevelt, i think it leads to a decline in personal dignity. we are talking about able- bodied adult without dependents. some of them have issues. i think what you all have the masterfully in criminal justice reform destigmatize is that part of the population. we are talking about not just getting a job, but getting prepared to go to work which i think enables them. i was a former governor, my job as a governor was to draw down is much federal dollars as i could because i didn't have any skin in the game. that's what we see across the country with these waivers which i believe, i know that they were used in georgia, they were being abused in many places. >> i talked to a lot of governors who would take issue with you on that.
a lot of people would be affected by this change are veterans, children who recently aged out of foster care, people recovering from opioids and individuals who are subject to mass incarceration. and trying to understand the basis for the change. does usda have data on the demographics within the abos classification? >> we will be happy to provide -- >> i request on the record that you share this data with the committee. it would be helpful. is there specific research in fns or can you point to specific research that proves taking someone's snap benefits away will help them get a job? >> we are simply trying to preserve the integrity of a law that was passed by republicans and democrats in 1996. which indicated there is a time. when the loss of a job, or a health issue would give people an opportunity to have these benefits for 120 days.
>> and i understand that, but because the population we are talking about is complicated, and there are hurdles for many of these people to be able to get into a work training program, or to get a job. returning veterans who are having a difficult time reintegrating back into their communities for example. i'm just trying to understand, you know the benefit of throwing these people off of the food benefit how that helps them get a job. i don't understand that. i mean this is not a population, contrary to what some have suggested, who are just lazy and don't want to work . this is a very complicated population and i want to know what the research is and what the data is that the department is using to basically justify this rule change. and i would appreciate it if there is such odata, if there a study, if fns has done something that you can share that with this committee. because one of the problems when we talk about snap or abos is we generalize
everything that fits into a nice neat category is a much more complicated population of vulnerable population and i'm worried if we move forward with what you're proposing a lot of people will be hurt. by the way i think it goes against what the farm bill -- which was passed in a bipartisan way, abdicated for. and i think we will do everything we can to protect this population, and if that means going to court we will go to court as well. >> i appreciate that, we are actively and aggressively addressing the needs of the . veterans and incorporating them into the usda as well as the agricultural environment to help these people. we have education and training programs specifically for them as well as some other vulnerable populations that you mention. >> again we would appreciate any research that you have or any data that could justify what you are doing. i appreciate it, thank you. >> thank you gentlemen.
the young lady from missouri. >> thank you atmr. chairman and thank you mr. secretary for all that you are doing and i know you care about all americans no matter their income level. specifically regarding the conversation we just had gi ju wanted to clarify the changes in the proposals you are putting forth don't kick people off, they give them opportunity to get some training, and then if they participated in a training program to help them link to those 7.3 million open jobs available right now, that they can keep their benefits, isn't that correct you mark >> better said than i did. >> okay, thank you. i wanted to move on to the program that was referenced earlier about relocating the two usda research agencies -- and i want to let you know that those of us in missouri are excited about that opportunity. i think you've gotten some letters from us commending you on that. we believe that we have the personnel and the individuals with the skills necessary and we would love to have those
located there. could you kind of give us an update on your rationale for why you wanted to move this agency out of dc, out of the beltway and move it closer to the heartland and closer to where the farmers are? >> surely. you along with 135 others and the expression of interest we got and we are slowly doing a very thorough object of process. in fact we engaged in a county firm, ernst and young that is used to doing these kind of relocation assessments in order to make sure that we did not involve any kind of political pressure or biases in that in any way, evaluating these -- and there are some very interesting offers out, having been governor as well as a businessperson, i think you go where you can attract the best
labor force and what we saw from testimony, i think a letter that mr. -- the former director of -- talked about the difficulty of living in washington, d.c. with the cost of living. we think also it's costly to the federal government here. nipper had a lease that was up and had the need to move locations and that made me think about the possibility of both agencies being relocated closer to the heartland and where most of their customers are. we continue leadership in but those agencies -- and nifa here in her agency relationships we need to develop from a perspective there. but frankly most of the cruise we had in an early phd program it is difficult to uproot young families and give them a definite quality of life here in the dc area.
in many ways. so i understand it is a change and people don't like change. we think there are adequate reasons, we'd be happy to -- outside the hearings today, we don't have time, i'd be happy to discuss if anyone has major questions about our reasoning. >> it sounds good. your tweet on friday about the commitment from the chinese to purchase 10 million times -- can we look forward to other purchase commitments on ethanol and -- as part of the negotiations? >> i sure hope so. i will give you a few an act notes that happened in the meeting there. when vice premier -- gave the commitment and said sunny go out tell your farmers we have 10 million more bushels. that's a big deal. i said yes. i kept sitting there and did not leave he said are you going to go tell them?
i said no i'm hoping there will be more. the vice premier looked at me and said there will be more. but we are optimistic. we have to be cautiously optimistic. these negotiations are never over until they are over with the chinese and we have a lot of details, a lot of frankly, hurdles to get there. there are some structural reforms and nontariff measures that have to be reached in order to achieve the lofty perches potential that is out there for the chinese. we are hopeful that will be determined later. i think we will continue to make progress but ultimately i think president -- and president trump will have to decide it's time to restore relationships in a meaningful and forceful way that informs the intellectual property transfer issues we felt were damaging the national economy initially. >> absolutely we appreciate all of your work and leadership. >> thanks young lady and i am
pleased to recognize the young lady from north carolina who by the way is the vice chair of the -- >> thank you mr. chair and thank you to our ranking members as well for hosting this session. and secretary perdue thank you for your testimony and welcome back. i was proud to work with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to authorized it lease three centers of excellence at -- university is in last year's farm bill. and $5 million has been appropriated for the centers in the 2019 appropriations bill. many of us on the committee and in congress want to make sure the 1890s get funding and support that is needed from usda to establish the centers of excellence and to do the kind of research that is necessary for them to do. i'm curious about your commitment to work with us to ensure that the farm bill authorized level of funding of $2 million is included in the
president's 2020 budget. >> i don't know that i can commit what will or won't be in the president's budget, but i can't commit if it is there as you all appropriate it. we will obviously fulfill your vision for what we do with that and in fine fashion. one other thing about that, i think one of the better things you all did regarding the 1890s and the farm bill was to stop the rescission of the money you are giving out there. them being treated differently than others, that will go a long way. >> i want to thank you for that, that was an amendment that i had and you supported that. you saw the inequity there, that's what it was, and i appreciate you -- and again i'd like to have your support going forward. i know you can't tell the president what to rdo, but i certainly hope that you will emphasize that. i also want to ask about your
decision to appoint naomi earp as the deputy and assistant secretary. i know -- around her views on civil rights and so forth have raised some concerns by the naacp and other communities and i think you may have responded to that, but if you could just tell me a little bit more i'd appreciate that. >> i was extremely impressed looking at her resume but more impressed when i met with her personally. her passion and commitment to fulfilling the laws of the land regarding the responsibility at usta to fulfill the civil rights components and iall aspects there. i was sure she was prepared to do that and certainly looking at her, she e is professionally qualified having led efforts at the eeoc and others in that realm. i found her to be eminently
qualified and i look forward to her confirmation. >> well okay i won't go any further with that but just to say there are lots of concerns in the community about not only the things that she said but the way she has conducted herself as it relates to civil rights. you know our committee appreciates the work of the food nutrition services, i i ju wanted to add my support for s.n.a.p. and my colleagues who have raise that issue. you know i think when we talk about able-bodied and people needing to work that there are many circumstances that create problems for them. we have a skills gap, yes a lack of jobs, but whether or not people have the skills to do those jobs i think that has to be considered as well. and also in terms of the children who will be impacted,
if you take from the parents and those who are responsible for those children, the children suffer at home and at school. so i just wanted to raise that and say childcare and many other things come into play and sometimesbo, you know, if our bellies are not hungry if we have not suffered that pain we don't understand the pain. anyway i think i am about running out of time but i will defer any other questions i have to you in writing. thank you. >> thank you. the gentleman from california. >> thank you u mr. chairman. secretary we appreciate your appearance here today, thank you for your time with us here. and also for your diligence in what we've dealt with in northern california with the season, with the fire in redding california and to add to that the camp fire in paradise, california on top of that. your diligence of your office sent our other partners in the interior and homeland security have been pretty amazing and appreciated. as you know 650,000 acres burned just in my first district
of california this year. 93 lives have been lost in the two fires combined. that points out we need to dramatically change how we manage the forests in california and the western states across the country. just in california we had 130 million dead trees and counting across our 9 million acres in the state of forested lands. and we need new treatment on it. we have to do the kind of treatment that will help us to c mitigate wildfire risk. you know you don't eliminate wildfire risk because lightning happens and people happened too, but you can certainly make a forested situation much more manageable when a fire does occur as we had many years ago when the inventory of trees per acre and brush, etc. was much lower and much different in a natural setting. we been putting fires out for 100 years and now have an overload of inventory of that material.
so, needless to say, we had some really good provisions in the farm bill that passed the house on the forestry title. a lot of that was eliminated over on the senate side. i'm glad we got the farm bill done we did get some good -- in there. some really important leaps for all of us would have been there with the other parts in that title. so we did a lot of work on that and the work that was done in the omnibus previously that had the forestry in it really fall short of what we need to do. and it's very important to the assets that we are supposed to be stewards of in the usda to the u.s. forest service, the habitat that it means and the human lives that are affect did. so we've got to have strong management here and at the rate
we are going under previous regimes with basically 1% of our u.s. forest service lamb being touched her year it will take 100 years to get across and treat them. we don't have 100 years for the hundreds of thousands of acres that burn in the west especially. so we tried to ensure the forest service has every tool available on funding, on separating disaster funding from your main course of funding. but we need to be much more aggressive at this. so can you mr. secretary update me on how we are putting in place something at a little bit greater speed at 1% nationally may be up to a 30 year -- to cover california on the treatment we need on auto breakers to be better habitat, more fire safe, more healthy and to boot the economy?
>> thank you, i will do my best. i think we are making progress in both policy, in authorities, and in funding. as you know the funding fix doesn't begin until next fiscal year, that's why i felt compelled to mention the $720 million we had taken out of the kitty of operations to do exactly what you are asking to to suppress fires. we need that to refill so we can begin to do that. we have to prioritize, as you said there is so much. what i challenge the fire service to do is to pray her toys on the wildland -- prioritize on the wildland -- you side first-hand in your district in paradise how we need to focus first on those. we are so far behind the curve we need the other categorical exclusions that you mentioned such as the dead trees, they will remove them on landscape stick scale rather than having
to go one application after the other. which all of them are subject to nifa and litigation and that slows the process down. >> we have a good neighbor policy allowing local tribes and governments and enabling private lands. i think we need a lot stronger help from the private sector are on this to do it faster than we are. let me touch him real quickly with good work on getting ricin to china. how is it going with japan on discussions and getting risa little strongly into that economy? >> we don't know yet, obviously ambassador light hyder will focus on japan along with china over the understanding of the tpp implementations are coming and our producers will be at extreme disadvantage there. he understands how important japan is and has committed to me he will move on that as quickly as able with them. hopefully can get an agreement that is tpp or better very soon. >> thank you gentlemen.
recognizing the gentle lady from virginia and the new subcommittee chairman of forestry. >> thank you so much mr. chairman. good afternoon secretary perdue so nice to see you, thank you for being here. i'd like to join you -- invite you to join me in central virginia we have by some farmers, soybean farms, hydroponic farms, small family certified naturally grown farms and i'd love to take you on a tour of quite a few of our farms if and when you have the time. my question today is on rural broadband. according to the fcc's 2018 broadband deployment report almost 30% of virginians living in rural areas don't have access to 6 broadband which is in minimally acceptable speed. that is three megabytes per second upload. this creates significant challenges from the ability of businesses and farms to operate in these communities. the ability of our kids to do
their homework. across my district in central virginia we have some kids who sit at the donald parking lot to get access to the internet and is drastically impacting their ability to compete with other students to have the same experience as other students and some of the more populated suburban areas that have stronger broadband internet. the fy 2019 included -- grant programs and the usda's role a the utility service has other programs to support broadband such as community connect and tell him -- telemedicine efforts. my question is do you think the funding level is sufficient? and the structure of the programs are appropriate to address the challenge of getting broadband to rural communities across the country? and in my case across central virginia? >> certainly not across the country. i think it's enough to indicate that we can deploy these in a
competitive way working with private sector are partners. if we -- to that money, there is grant money, $200 million, loan grant money of $200 million and $200 million of just loan money of which there has to be equities in there. it is only the tip of the iceberg and the beginning. you have a beautiful district and i would love to come visit and tour and visit with your farmers, but the fact is, you are absolutely right. not only your district but many of the districts of your colleagues around here have situations that are exacerbating the rural/urban divide. and if we want people to live in beautiful places like you have all over your district they are not going to do it without the kind of services that are just as important as electricity was in the 30s. that's why i would love for this committee to be a champion to help us moonshot to cover
this country from coast to coast with broadband. >> thank you certain thank you very much for your comments on that. my district is a perfect example, we are a majority of suburban and majority rural in landmass and that divide you mentioned is happening in central virginia in the congressional district. i have one more question about broadband and i'm curious, what you expect the impact of the reconnect programs funded at the 2019 levels to be on the number of people who can access broadband? of the rt of percentage need do you think that program might be able to address? >> i'm not sure i want to tell you these numbers, i don't have a specific number but, this is very broad. not nearly enough. this, as i said, i don't know what qualification the tip of the iceberg is, but this is just a test case to demonstrate what we are trying to develop our public/private partnerships. the federal government doesn't quite frankly have enough to do this itself either.
we use the e.r.a.'s and emcs across the country and telephony , we had other private businesses there. what we will try and learn is how to optimize and leverage federal incentives where there is not an economic reason to do this. get people who are in that business that know how to do it and do most of it. i cannot give you a specific number but it is only a beginning. >> thank you and thank you for your support of these initiatives overall and for your recognition of what a significant issue it is to so many communities. thank you and mr. chair i yield back. >> thank you gentle lady and i want to run my members we are recognizing people with seniority, order based on who was here when the gavel fell. going down the list the next person to be recognized is mr. -- from north carolina. >> thank you mr. chairman and mr. secretary great to see you. we all appreciate the great work that you are doing and i just want to thank you again
for coming to my district a few weeks ago and it is not the first time that you have been there. the unfortunate thing is part of the draw of my district as it has been so devastated by hurricane florence and before that hurricane matthew. we have had two major catastrophic floods, one a little broader in scope and literally in depth than the other. nonetheless both of them were very significant and those that weren't flooded had so much rain that basically wthey lost millions of dollars that were plowed into the ground so to speak with no return. and that on top of the fact that the farm economy has really been struggling the last 5-6 years for a variety of reasons. of course you've got the -- increase which has a big impact on our folks and we talked about y that already. i've got two things i want to focus on here at the moment though. one is directly related to the flooding.
that is the role of an rcs, i want to commend you for the work you have all been doing their. particularly in eastern north carolina but it is an area that needs a lot more focus. we have so many rivers, creeks, streams, swamps that are gunk up with junk from years and years of sediment traveling east and southeast into the district. tree logs, you name it, beaver dams, it is a mess. and it is going to take a long and sustained effort to clean out all these rivers, creeks, streams and tributaries to where the water can actually move and keep so much of our farmland and a lot of residential property as well from being flooded. in north carolina we have the added impact, and this is both good and bad, and that is you have such a huge influx of population growth in the central and western part of the
state. all that water has to go somewhere. and you probably have observed like ofi have when they build homes these days they are a wingspan apart, literally. may be 6 feet. when you have a big rain shower and that water go straight to the drain and straight to the river, and it won't be too long in eastern north carolina when raleigh has a 2-5 entrain it will be the equivalent of a hurricane matthew in eastern north carolina because the water has nowhere to go. with all that said and that back drop you know i want to make sure we are doing everything possible at usda and the other agencies as well to focus on that. a and i'd love to have your commitment and attention to it as well as we move forward. >> i think one of the benefits of getting out and visiting with you all in your districts
is what i learned when i was with your aconstituents a few weeks ago, was i found that some of our an rcs people have misinterpreted their ability to get into some of these creeks and streams and do what needed to be done. we came back and wrecked divide that by sitting down the clarity of what they are able to do so i hopefully will be able to have some impact of clearing out these results of the devastation from the hurricanes. >> the second thing i'd flike raise with you i'd like to get your update on where we are that was authorized and funded with the farm bill and what you think the timeline for r that is. >> we appreciate the attention that congress gave to the transmittable diseases, we call it the vaccine bank that it is actually a broader strategy than that. we call it three legs of a stool, one is really unawareness system working with states. in the laboratory network, and then a real vaccine bank. so these transmittal diseases began with foot and mouth, swine -- they are all
devastating and either of those diseases and others could be crippling to our agricultural community and livestock economy in the united states, and we can't be too vigilant about that. but the money given undersecretary -- has a great plan for working with private industry and producers in order to develop the network of early laboratory detection as well as understanding that the network a vigilance of reporting out here and then the vaccine bank as well. so we are still looking and trying to determine what is the best -- of taxpayer money regarding the technology of vaccines in that regard. >> thank you. >> thank you gentlemen. the gentleman from new york. >> thank you chairman. secretary perdue thank you for being here today.
as noted by the chairman i represent new york. upstate new york, new york 19 and it comes isas a surprise to some folks that i represent the third most rural district of any democrat in congress. and the eighth most rural district of any member in congress and i am proud to do so. it is the home of numerous small family owned farms, thousands. and many of whom are small dairy operations, and this past week i visited farmers at their operations across the district. among them was don -- owner of don's dairy supply and duane martin president of the delaware county farmers bureau and owner of a small dairy operation. and other individuals i spoke with about the challenges and opportunities, small family farm operations face today. i know the farm bill has done
some good work with the march and protection plan now being rebranded and i think i is known as the dairy -- program. a lot of good stuff in there tickets implemented. but i want to focus a little bit on localized infrastructure. because i think we have to think more broadly about how we allow the small, localized farmers to deal with the global market. that sometimes is marginalizing them and pushing them out. there are dairy operations in 10 of the 11 counties i represent and a number of dairy farmers have -- over the last 13 years. sometimes were talking about from 400 down to 100 or from 100 down to 12 over the last 20 some odd years. it has been devastating. so my question is, what can we do aside from the insurance program, the dairy margin program, from a localized infrastructure piece and resources piece to provide the
sort of local usta personnel and technology and services in rural farm economies like the ones that i represent? >> well it is a challenge. i think obviously what you all did with the farm bill, particularly smaller dairies iny upstate new york anwill be benefited by this both on the refund of previous insurance premiums that under the -- which they did not result in any benefit that they received as well as the upcoming one will help a lot. you've got technologies coming like robotics, robotic milker's which will help. but these are economy skill issues that we deal with all throughout the economy not just in agriculture. the economy skill of the dairy industry from a small dairy is going to be extremely difficult moving forward even with the new farm bill. i don't think any of us would submit that we are compelled to keep anyone in business if it is not profitable, or they
cannot justify that. but it is challenging. i wish there were more that we could do and we are open to any suggestions from that, and using all the tools of usda to get that done. but dairy on a small scale, a small economy of scale is like a lot of agriculture. when i grew up a man and wife could probably have 300-400 acres and support a family of two and put the kids through college and do that. now even in nondairy it's up to 12,000 -15,000 acres in that regard. you see not only a number of dairies going out but the number of cows are not reducing that much. we've actually gotten more productive per cow in many places in the economy of scale. so these are challenges that really are intractable and we ideas that you have in this. and your constituents of how we can help. >> i appreciate that. i have enanother question on a
separate matter but you answered -- it makes me think otherwise. you know i would hope that given what these communities have done for our country, the rural quality of life that they provide for so many wonderful communities everywhere, that we don't allow the economies of scale as you put it to deter us from doing the necessary work. to think about how we can do better. by these communities. and not let the concentration and monopolization of the industry be guided by our democratic principles, because at the end of the day these communities are being left behind. and i do think it's imperative that on some level we don't just dismiss the problem as a effect of a growing economy but that we have a responsibility on some level to do the work
and to figure out how we can help where appropriate. thank you. >> we are willing to explore and implement any ideas you may have served. >> thank you. >> thanks gentlemen. and the gentleman from nebraska. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you mr. secretary for being here today and sharing with us. i regret some of the comments made on what you're trying to do with the staff program. i think you are being misconstrued. i know your goal is to set aside money for technical training, college training for those who are able-bodied who don't have small children, who don't have a handicap and helping them get a high-paying job. the goal here is to break the cycle of poverty, this is a war, probably not a war on the impoverished. thank you for your leadership i think it is needed. i want to follow-up on the foot and mouth disease discussion, that's one of the highest priorities i hear from the beef producers. i appreciate the comment you made already.
what more can congress do to partner with you and the department of agriculture to make this the future of this a success? we want to have this vaccine bank down the road so we don't have an outbreak. when i talk to our cattlemen rk and pork producers of foot-and- mouth disease outbreak would shut down trade for five years or may be more. that is also on our corn producers and a ripple effect across the entire economy. what more can we do to support you in this effort from congress? >> again i think the initial appropriation over the vaccine bank we will be getting will help us determine the right technology to use and the right product to use. i think there will probably be more appropriations needed to fundto a vaccine bank. i don't know that we are able to give you the right direction to do that but as soon as we have some direction we will recommend to you, it will probably, like most solutions
here, require some more money. again, i think just the awareness that the industry and congress has brought to this issue helps everyone be vigilant about it. this is the first step in any kind of solution and i think you all by funding it and putting it as part of the farm bill, have helped to make awareness for all producers across the united states. >> well thank you. i intend to work closely with mr. ibach and your team, we want to make sure we are ready to react and respond here to give you the tools needed to make this a success. in the end the beef industry are a number one exporter for beef in nebraska for all 50 states. this is a critical program and i want to thank you there. i want to ask a little bit about usmca. it seems to me congress is taking some votes right now that will have their chance in the senate. no chance to become law, assigned by law toby the president yet i think the usmca agreement is ready to debate and ready to vote on.
is there any other priority in congress for the department of agriculture that has a higher priority right now than getting usmca past from your perspective? >> may be aside from the disaster bill we talked about previously, i think again this certainly is critical. as i've told you i e don't think we wan to contemplate the consequences of non-ratification, and i know that we are hardened by the coalition that's already forming out there. very strong farm bureau, chamber of commerce, but business and major agriculture groups. there is a lot of energy and a lot of momentum there right now. so i hope we don't terry too long in that. obviously the tricking us soof the 232's play into that to some degree but i hope we can resolve that sooner than later. >> what i heard you say today
and i heard previously from other leadership within the administration is we did not get every change we wanted in the usmca, compared to nafta, however every change that was made was to our advantage. do i have that right? >> absolutely. i challenge anyone to go line by line, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse and say where it is worse than it was. i don't think you'll find it. >> for our counties in nebraska $50,000 of income is directly related to trade with canada and mexico. this is a priority we've got to get it done. thank you mr. secretary for your answers today i mr. chairman i yield back. >> the secretary -- reminds me of that on a daily basis. >> thank you very much. we will now give five minutes to -- >> thank you so much mrs. chairman. thank you secretary perdue for testifying this morning about the rural economy in particular. and thrilled to serve on the agricultural committee and i'm from the great state of
minnesota with our chairman mr. collin peterson and about half of my district is rural in nature. so it is a pleasure to be here today. mr. secretary farmers throughout my district are struggling with record low farm income and low commodity prices. my farmers have made it clear that maintaining the farms safety net is critical to keeping their operations afloat. thanks to the work of this committee, before i got here, the farm bill gave producers access to valuable risk management tools. the farm bill also provides producers with an opportunity to update their payment yields for the 2020 crop year, and moving forward making yearly elections between arc and plc. so what assistants will your agency provide the producers to ensure these opportunities are used to the fullest extent? and what impact in particular did the shutdown have on your ability to implement these changes? i am a freshman, i am new here. apparently we've had 22 crs
since 1996 and we shut the government down 10 times.'s when he chance i get to put on record how bad nsan idea government shutdowns are on everyone i will take an opportunity to do it. >> i hope you will. . certainly you talked about two provisions regarding updating the crop yields, what we are doing right now is designing the granularity of the rules and regulations of how that will be done. you all give the intent and the will of congress and we go and put the rules and regulations in place. we are working feverishly to get that done as quickly as possible. it will not be done obviously by the planting season this year but the payment for those programs are done in a year in arrears, so we will have it done by the time the next planning. for the 1920 crop is done so they can update their yields at
that point in time. >> terrific, thank you. and how behind did you become because of the shutdown? >> i've failed to answer that part of it. it was disconcerting but i tell you you may have heard and seen from some other agencies or groups over threatening to be sick or whatever we had our food safety inspection workers at every -- receiving a payche, were stalwart in the way they did their job in that regard. we had and were able to negotiate with omb over getting critical people back in place. able to negotiate with omb. we are getting critical people
back into place. we may recall in your district we were able to get our fsa workers back pifor a couple of days. prior to the shutdown. we were going for three days a week after that. as i mentioned earlier we had and rcs personnel who were funded, helping in be sick, we had our workers, our food safety workers and didn't miss pla beat. ut within the internal usda we're not going to use the shutdown as an excuse for any kind of delay of what we have to do.
>> thank you for that and one final to questions on trade. as many of my colleagues have continued to say, we rely on usda to be a voice for ag within the administration, especially during this self-inflicted in my view trade war. i worked in business for over 22 years so i'm new to government here but it's often the case that once you lose some of the countries from a trade perspective, it's awfully hard to get them back. so chinese importers of us brain, they may look elsewhere. i know we have soybean issues. you believe our farmers will be able to get back these markets once we lose them? >> i had that same theory initially that you referred to. i have since become much more optimistic about that primarily because of thechina discussions .
the kind of numbers that we see there. while you referred to it as self-inflicted, it certainly was initiated. i think again to allow china continue to build their economy on the backs of intellectual property theft and cyber transfer and different things like that it would have been long-term damaging to our economy . i applaud president trump for calling the question on that even though it induced short-term pain that some remain to this day, i think the market facilitation program ate up for a lot of that and i think you've heard on your rural constituents about that. and by and large, i think that we are going to be better off in the end. agriculture wise and us economy wise in order to get that done. good question is on much more optimistic about regaining those markets. i know there's a fear that you lose a market and it takes a long time to get it back area while other people do look other places for diversity of options they have, just as we look for
diversity of options in our personal shopping, i think the good news is the us steel still provides the most reliable, most abundant, secret, best quality food supply there is in the world. >> mister secretary, think of our farmers and i sure hope you're right. >> the gentle lady yields back, mister dunn, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you secretary for being here today thank you or so much of your valuable time, especially thank you for visiting my district after hurricane michael struck shortly after it, you were there on the ground and i know you know the value of a loss due to that storm. and that it rises everything in 2017. you and i know that standing up rural community after hurricane is to ensure agricultural economy recovers quickly . unfortunately congress so far has failed to pass a disaster
supplemental program for anything like many issues in washington, it hung up on other unrelated political things , not questions of policy. my question first is how can we help you to be better equipped in the future to respond to natural disasters like this and i know that's a long, complicated question to you need directors and staff to respond to that, but let me say your staff has been a joy to work with after this. >> we appreciate it and we're proud of our staff and the response that they give to your members. we know that these are not things you think. they are constituent service issues and we want to be responsive to them. i think again, the farm bill does a great job. an ordinary type of risks that are involved in farming from a safety net perspective, no one can contemplate a major disasters as we've seen in 17 and 18 and therefore i think again from congress's ability to move very quickly from a
appropriation restoration theme, we will be prepared to move very quickly as i said this year, and learn what we learned last year , we are ahead of the game in order to be able to implement that and get those resources and pockets of your constituents that need it desperately. >> i look forward to working with your staff on developing more response methods 3087 percent of the ad losses in florida due to hurricane michael were timber. $1.3 billion worth of trees on the ground. i've spoken to constituents who lost their entire retirement savings were in the form of timber. with the destruction of this. what can we do to help these do you believe a block grant like what we did with citrus last year would be appropriate for timber. >> it's a great question. we actually will have to design a program for timber. it's not typically in the
disaster program because it typically hasn't suffered like hurricane michael. thus long, the timber loss between the panhandle of florida , all the way up 150 75 miles inland was in alabama and georgia was like nothing i've ever seen. that's not a typical crop that we think of what is an agricultural crop. it just has a longer growing cycle and i think we certainly as indicated , that was the many of these couples 401(k) that they were using to fund their retirement in that area. and it's, we will develop i think they appropriate, you mentioned the block grant more likely it will be some of that in there. >> i appreciate your help with that. we have a crisis in apalachicola forest, so many trees on the ground, they been on the ground for four months and are past the point of salvage. we had some categorical
exclusions in the house farm bill language which didn't make the final version that would have allowed you to much more rapidly salvage and remove that debris. i want you to know we will work together to get that language across the finish line this session. again, because we could have salvaged a lot more trees . with the devastation of our timber crop, many of my sawmills will not have any wood they need for decades after this. i'm going to ask you to work with our office where we can to ease the regulatory burdens and give sawmills access to the wood they need to continue their timber operations and that's just a yes. >> one of the best ways we can do that is making available timber sales in our national forest. >> music to my ears, mister
secretary. staff hasbeen great to work with and i want to echo the words of mister crawford. you are theright man in the right place at the right time. i yield .>> the gentleman yields back . >> thank you madam chair, mister secretary. my district is also in upstate new york and half the district is considered rural as you know, rural broadband is a big issue for us, in rural areas, 80 percent of americans who don't have access to high-speed internet live in rural areas. because of the shutdown i saw on the usda's reconnect website that many of your webinars and other programs informing people about this funding opportunity were postponed and in fact on the website no upcoming events or training programs are currently scheduled. my question is how does usda ensure folks are aware of this raw band funding opportunity ahead of the deadline? will you be rescheduling any
of the canceled events that were planned and you plan on hosting any events? we'd love to have you back in upstate new york. >> april 29 deadline has been delayed. that should be up on the website assuming people have access to broadband. certainly, you ought to be proud of your state. it's one of the more progressive from the state perspective over promulgating broadband across the state and we look for state partners like that to, that have the passion for that and many states and many governors who are in town this weekend, broadband is a huge issue for those but regarding the program over the reconnect, everything should be back up. >> the contractors were not being deemed essential and they had to suspend their work but they will be back at it now and i think all these programs should be certainly delayed not anymore than the 30 days. >> also, you talk about our
state. we had issues in our state in terms of oversight of some of the providers. you talked about working with our private sector partners to expand broadband into rural communities and i know that in some states like new york we had issues with cable providers who have said they were going to expand and have taken tax dollars that said they were going to expand into certainunderserved communities . and i'm trying to figure out what is usda's role in oversight of tax dollars that are going to private sector partners and they are not using that tax dollars wisely were not expanding into rural communities, what oversight does usda provide in ensuring those dollars are spent wisely? >> it's the exact concern i had going into this, that's why we taken probably a long time to develop the rules and
accountability provisions that way. i think ours will be more of a reimbursement type of issue. in that regard than money up front. and there are if you look at the accountability rules that are there on the website right now, i think you will find fairly good accountability. that never dismisses or excuses or eliminates some degree of fraud that may be out there. we got thomas demand and out there, we think we will be able to pick the best partners. >> i just encourage, if you're looking at this, make sure they're making commitments to expand into rural community that they actually follow through on their commitments to expand to x number of household they promised they were going to do. i also want to note, if we have any clawback provisions as well. >> putting on my other i also sit on the veterans affairs committee and i know there was a recent report from usda about veterans who reside in rural communities and rural counties and nearmilitary
bases . it notes the nurse as a whole participate in snap much lower than the general population, 40 percent of eligible seniors anticipate in snap. my question is what is usda doing proactively to ensure older veterans and all veterans who struggle with food insecurity participate in snap? >> what we're doing for our veterans and older veterans, we find that we are trying to encourage a program of mentorship. you've got aging farmers that also want to mentor young people who want to get in to the farm business. they may not have any heirs to carry on the farm business and many times they can grow their own buyer if they mentor them over a period of time and that's one of the things we're encouraging. other than the regular outreach between the administration, as you know the states administer
nutrition program and many of them have variousoutreach efforts . to my knowledge we don't have a specific outreach over the nutrition program targeting veterans or seniors. >> you all don't work with the department of defense on any of those programs? >> we have worked with defense ran early in jobs. >> thank you mister secretary, i yield back my time. >> gentleman yields back. mister johnson you recognized for five minutes. >> mister secretary, thanks for being here. i've got a passion for expanding opportunities for working-class folks and in the last farm bill, i think there were 10 state pilots set up regarding snap employment and training.i don't think a final report on those completed pilots is due until next year so i'm not looking for depth or detail what do you have any initial
observations about some of the state successes we saw in those pilots and if you have any initial reactions, share some of your thoughts about some of the processes we can make in the months to come. >> i don't unfortunately have any interim type of report on that. we like congress dealing deadlines of evaluation in that regard and frankly i have so much else to do, we don't have much of a chance to check on interim unrest over these type of things so regrettably, i don't have much information to share today. >>. >> we thought a fair amount about trade and i've been encouraged by a fair amount of progress as we talked about getting the us mca ratified. as it seems like we're making headway with china. we thought a fair amount about china, does usda and other agencies have the tools that you all need tocontinue to expand market access , particularly for american producers? >> we believe we do and we're
using it very well. as i answered the question earlier about our undersecretary for trade, the 14 farm bill and undersecretary of trade. it had not been filled until we got there. i chose ted mckinney from indiana, a former director of agriculture there. he's quite a salesman and he has well enjoyed his million mile status around the world. primarily focusing in on new markets and going to places that have a lot of potential like india, malaysia and indonesia, philippines and taiwan and other places around the world, the other thing that i think we've done , we can do it again. all that by herself takes the private sector and we want to world. it takes a private sector.
we want to help them. the market access program that you all fun and own. also, in the form of the mitigation program we dedicated $200 million of ad trade promotion dollars. we allocated out 57 collaborators in order to develop markets in different places. or go back and repair markets that felt like may have been damaged by some of that. we are hoping they have been well received. we are working with regional, in order to reach other markets. >> for the number of members ask about rural broadband, and prior to joining congress that was my career, focusing communities design and build great role networks.
in the appropriations package that was passed a few weeks ago, i think there was $600 million of additional funding. for rural broadband. many observations from your perspective about what udsa may do with those dollars differently than what has been done in the recent past with community connect or other programs? >> i think we will continue unless we have better ideas or new ideas regarding traditional money. my goal was to do so well in the initial appropriation of the $600 million. to demonstrate that we would be great optimal stewards of that money. in order to encourage you all to do more. we continue and we will continue to prosecute that additional money as well. in that regard. hopefully encourage the federal government as a whole to really take on broadband connectivity across the country. urban and rural. is a transformational opportunity that i believe it
is. >> clearly again there has been a fair amount of interest on both sides of the aisle. from veteran members as well as newbies. if your department is able to identify any particular challenges, are you getting done the kind of progress you describe? let us know. if we can help we want to. >> we will have more of those and the challenges and impediments as we move forward in the application. >> you don't want me out digging the trances. >> thank you chairman for yielding. thank you for mr. secretary for taking time weto be with us and being an ally to our fibers -- farmers. i have been in office for a couple of weeks. i am happy to say our offices
have been able to work together. thank you for extending the deadline. during the shutdown. farmers in my area really needed that extension. you helped us get it done. i am grateful for it. >> i think there really is an emergency. that emergency is in rural america. close to 50% of our residents are on medicaid, a third of our jobs are connected to agriculture. a lot of those jobs are increasingly at risk. thanks to you said as in your testimony the fact that farm income has dropped by 50% since 2013.
due to commodity prices that are tanking and skyrocketing farm debt. crops like fruits and tree nuts, and major exports from my district having huge losses from trade. $3 billion lost from trade. when i look at this, i think the last time we had a decline of net farm income to this degree was during the great depression. during the great depression we had an enormous amount of public attention, huge efforts to fix this. public action thand mobilizatio then i look at what we are seeing today. in your testimony is of the agriculture department is going to cut the president's fiscal 2020 request. i see that as the opposite of what we actually need to be doing at a time like this. that really has this moment of crisis. my question for you is given your testimony, and the scale of the issue we are seeing in rural america to believe we could be doing d more to suppor our farmers y today? >> congressman we are happy to do anything you appropriate.
we will do it as officially and effectively as possible. i guess i would slightly disagree. i think we saw some areas in the early 80s that were since the depression that were difficult in that area. the other difference is, down 50% we were coming off of a career-high commodity and in production areas. in 8 to 13 areas. we begin in a much better place. those comparative numbers you can do anything with statistics. those numbers were career highs. that we saw in agriculture. there is no ntdoubt there are challenges. can we do more? i hope so. working together with what you all did in the farm bill, and are all doing in appropriations, we will optimize our efforts as much as possible. if you see holes or gaps we are
missing we would welcome your comments. >> one of the things that is so important in our community and has been talked about by the members is what is going on with trade and tariff. especially crops, the backbone of our economy. i have been talking to some of my friends and hearing about what is going on in the impact of trade. especially given the short shelf life that a lot of our crops really have. when do you expect producers in a district like mine will feel meaningful market access? due to the new promotion dollars through programs? >> i tsay march 1. >> perfect. i will take you at your word. >> obviously i think the markets are created slowly. these new markets certainly, i think frankly it does depend on the success of the china negotiations. you know the west coast is a huge export to southeast asia. primarily that large market. look what we could do in vietnam and the philippines and thailand and those other countries out there.
that is where the market facilitation program. you probably know some of your producers benefited from our procurement program. we took the crops off the market to support the prices. and we gave that money, feeding everyone to feed bank -- food banks and across the country. >> one more question. farmers in my community often feel ignored. i love you to see the impacts of what is happening in our district first-hand. can you commit to seeing my district and what's going on over the coming months and years? >> to have a record of how many times i have been already? >> i do. the last two months. >> i promise i will be back. >> i look forward to having you. coming. u for >> mr. baird you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you madam chair.
>> we appreciate the work that you did. and the other members of this committee. in order to get a farmville finished at the end of last year. that was important to adding some stability to the farm community. we had some way to predict what might be happening. you did a great job there. we appreciate all that work. we are looking forward to the opportunity to work with you to implement this farmville and look for ways we might make improvements in the future. indiana, as you know, because you have been there, there is
almost 100,000 jobs related to agriculture. we produce a significant amount of corn and soybeans. i don't want to forget the hardwood lumber industry as well. we talked about these, you have answered these questions. i'm giving you a chance to take a breath while i make these comments. anyway, we talked about rural broadband and the impact of the tariffs on a lot of our soybeans. they are exported. we have talked about that. the one area that we might not have mentioned, this doesn't necessarily come under your purview. the renewable fuel standard when we take corn and run it through an ethanol plant and have several of those in my
district. then we end up with the ddg's and those are also a product that we can market overseas. it retains about 80% of the feed value of that corn i just wondered if you could give us an overview. and the impact that has on the agriculture community. >> this was a big topic last year. unfortunately those rules probably will not be out for the driving season. they are committing to discretionary enforcement about those folks that want to continue the sale.
building that market in the process of creating ethanol, you get a bad product. which is a great ingredient. the good news is, congressman, both of those items, ethanol and ddg's are on the list that we are discussing with china. they have a potential that they need the ethanol. again, we would be looking for them to take ddg's as well. we had been selling a good number, a good amount of ddg's into china. they stopped when they started on the corn trades. hopefully we can get that restored as well. which would be great for your corn farmers in indiana and all across the west. >> thank you gentlemen.
>> welcome it is wonderful to see you here. on the slightly humorous side, i wanted to be on the act committee and some people are surprised because i am from new jersey. they do not realize in new jersey we have a lot of agriculture. we have cranberries, blueberries, i can name a whole bunch more. just the interesting part of it, i have them research when the last time somebody from new jersey actually sat on the agriculture committee for the house of representatives. take a guess? >> i am not sure there has been one. >> 1949. before that it was 1888. i will try to do a good job here. there haven't been too many of us. a couple things i was thinking about, first of all just to
mention it is important in new jersey. it is the third biggest industry in the state of new jersey. the whole southern half thof th and parts of the northwest are involved in agriculture. it really does make a difference. that is why it is a garden state. any sense of feeling how in general nationally we are doing, or locally or whatever. with high quality specialty crops? in other words the organic market. that is what you see a lot of in new jersey as well. i was wondering if you have thoughts on that. >> we are making progress. obviously those were crops that have been somewhat ignored in years past. i think we are making progress. i think this farmville continues to make progress. encouraging both alternative methods of growing, in the inside and outside. farm to market type of efforts
from a marketing perspective. our nutrition programs encouraging fresh vegetables, and going in both our food banks as well as our school nutrition programs. i think we are making progress in that. the organic industry is probably north of a $50 billion industry now. a few years ago it was a strange to hear about that. you see from the consumers making their choices in the grocery stores. their preferences in that regard. i think the usda is supporting that. as we go forward. new jersey, we were there, and beautiful farmland there. we had a vegetable spinach harvesting farm there. it was first class. >> good. i actually went to rutgers university. which was then called the
college of agriculture and environmental science. the land grant program, i know that you know about them. just agriculture research as well. could you give us more overview of how that is going? >> that is a good news story. with the collaboration of udsa and her agriculture research services. the collaboration between the scientists there and the scientists in our land-grant university. cornell and others included across the country. i truly believe that is the reason we are dependent upon exports today. because we can produce more than we can consume.
for the last 70 years we have had the basic research and the applied research, and the delivery system of that information through the extension service. this all comes from land grants. we worked hand in glove. we work through nafta to appropriate capacity building therefore extension as well as programs in that regard. it has been a great opportunity. we consider the land-grant university and their people great partners. >> they are. it really truly does help the farmers. the farmers are always ones to say i need help. at times they do. like we all do. i know they reach out to them. we appreciate that. the last question has to do with tomatoes. which we grow a lot of. we grow much more of in florida. i have ofmet with tomato grower up and down the east coast over time. they are still concerned a lot of tomatoes are coming in from other countries. particularly mexico. they are taking a hit.
some of the florida companies also have companies or subsidiaries in new jersey. any thoughts on that? >> you have some companies that began in southern florida and go up the east coast to because they are buyers like the major retailersrm. they want a good supply all year long. we go into the grocery store and in december where it would not be normal growing season in the united states we expect nice fresh tomatoes there. that is what our consumers have come to expect. while the seasonable and perishable fruit season was not included into the usmca. as you may know the secretary of commerce and the department of commerce has just suspended this tomato agreement. that we had with mexico. in order to explore an illegal fashion or allow the industry to explore any illegal fashion. are there unfair subsidies being produced in florida?
they would create an onslaught of product in the u.s. tomato growers, particularly, are concerned about that from florida all the way through the east coast. >> you are well aware of it and you are working on it. >> we are very aware of it. this falls on the purview of the department of commerce and ustr. we are advocates. >> thank you very much. >> thank you gentlemen. >> madam chair thank you. mr. secretary i urappreciate yo testimony. and all that you are doing and working together to sustain agriculture.
very important. you are doing a terrific job. we appreciate it. one of the most important things we can do is keep farmers and business. especially when times are tough. when general relational farmers sell out they usually sell out to bigger operators. bigger operators are not bad folks. it means fewer people working the land and living in our small communities and going to our schools. it puts pressure on rural america. the things we are trying to do, we appreciate your efforts in implementing this five-year farmville. to make sure we can keep the farmers in business. can we get your assurance you will be working closely with your epa colleagues to maybe deal with that waiver issue. which has been misused a little bit >> we certainly advocated strongly about that. while no commitments, interagency process we have made our views well known. i feel like i have a gentleman's understanding that we will be policed in a much more aggressive fashion than had been prior to that. >> thank you.
the area of trade, the progress made with mexico and canada, i certainly support that. thank you for that. as far as the eu and south korea, that looks to be very promising. with china everybody gets focused on tariffs. and all of that. and how we have impediments to trade. there are some nontariff issues that china has used to use technicalities to keep our products out. it could be a gml issue with soybeans or a growth hormone or that type of thing. can you address any of that beyond negotiations in those areas? >> those have been the foundation of our request and discussion with china. as we discussed. th while they want to talk about exciting purchase numbers we understand and we know in order to get there they will address these fundamental nontariff
reforms. such as a couple that you mentioned. such as the mrl's or the levels there that occur naturally. those are key issues that we have been discussing with them over what it will take to reach the levels they committed. it doesn't do any good to put fancy numbers on a piece of paper. if you do not have the commitment. these are the things we will do in order to ensure we can get those numbers. is >> the farmers of southern minnesota will almost say uniformly you can do a lot of things to help us in these program areas, but if you have bad government you will still run people out of business. one of the worst areas, this
overreach and regulations. federal regulations in almost every sector of our economy. driving up costs and limiting business and making us less affluent. making consumers pay more. it affects farmers and agriculture businesses. the transportation sector and energy sector and healthcare and medical care. i i know you have worked hard o things like waters of the united states and the clean powerplant. do you also support reforms down the line that would have the house and senate affirm major regulations, to make sure the people's body is at the executive branch and doing the right thing? >> i certainly hope so. we would encourage you and your constituents to let us know of the impediments. ve when it gets to food safety there is a zero tolerance kind of thing. other than things like that, one thing that can make us more productive, we have people laugh when you say i am here
from the federal government and i am here to help you they mostly want to help them by leaving. the fact is, if there are specific regulations, every group i talked to, we serve a constituent that knows how to complain in a very come -- professional way. they need to be specific about the regulations and impediments. we feel like we are identifying and are in the process of twice year putting those on the agenda to get those done. >> we will make sure we follow up on that. >> i used to work for a congressman who sat on this committee in the 1980s. there was a bipartisan bill work for welfare. it was a bill we carried for many years before clayton and the rest of them got it done. i can tell you what you're doing in that area and trying to change the regulation so it cannot be undercut.
promoting self-sufficiency and getting away from the e dependency of government. it is god's work. thank you for what you are doing mr. secretary. i support you 100%. >> thank you madam chairwoman. i may come back to the issue of work requirements for food assistance. at the end if i have a few minutes. i am happy to say a lot of my colleagues are talking about trade and tariff. we spoke briefly this morning about this. i wanted to pay a real picture of what is going on in washington state right now. we are the nation's top producer of apple, pears and cherries. many other are grown right in my district. and chelan county. are growers produce top-quality fruits. they are in high demand. our best go to china. our north american neighbors are important trading partners.
i represent in mexico is a top export market for apples and pears. canada is number two export market for cherries and pears. for three for apples. unfortunately mexico has anow imposed a 20% tariff on apples. in response to the tariffs on aluminum and steel. this has had a significant impact on our farm. it is jeopardizing our farmers. if we lose this market and others around the world may never come back and recover that market share. i wanted to encourage, and eliminating the section 232 tariffs. are growers are watching the u.s. as it progresses. i was wondering giving the urgency we are feeling in our district. if you could give ta timeframe from when we might see a final text for this agreement and accompanying u.s. international trade commission assessments. >> there are certain timelines.
over when these trade agreements have to be done. understanding, i wish we could ratify today. it will have an opportunity in april to do that. i hope we can also resolve the issue of retaliatory tariffs between all three countries. in and around that time or sooner if possible. in order to get back to a trade where the people of mexico and canada can enjoy the great products from your district. we can once again restore the free trade that this agreement
indicates. >> thank you. note for the record this involves mexico and canada. also of course significant tariffs at 50% from china. also retaliatory. trade deals are what we are looking for in our state. since i have a moment left i would, and about work requirements. i have a little bit different take. one out of six families in my state rely on snap. in addition a lot of people who do are able-bodied but live in rural environments or other places where they cannot find employment. there is no effort in these restrictions to provide employment training or a path to employment. my fear is what will happen with these requirements is that ultimately what it will result in is more hunger. not more jobs. ultimately penalize the people in our community who can least afford that. i will make a plug as a pediatrician and a community member. who is representing rural areas. to not have those requirements. >> i appreciate your concern.
localized regions that are different from the national unemployment by a certain level. than they would receive waivers. that is not limits of waivers. but the fact that it abuses the waiver process. and having statewide waivers over one county or more. our jobs are to draw down as much federal money as possible. i am on the other side as a steward as a federal taxpayer. >> i understand. i would note we're talking about hunger. i would also mention it is not just in certain regions. it is demographics. minorities who are disproportionally hit. it is harder for minorities to get work.
that there is discrimination in the workplace as well. that to be taken into account. they may have different job opportunities. >> we would love to have further discussion about that. >> thank you. >> mr. davis you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. madam chairwoman, and thank you mr. secretary. it is great to see you again. i love the discussion on our snap program. n this year fax are right now we have 21 million more people on snap benefits. today than when the last time unemployment was this low. this committee tried to actually fill the gaps.
through the last farm bill. we were not successful. i look forward to working with all of my colleagues throughout this committee. to make sure we do something to address prthe fact that we have millions more families still on snap benefits while still not getting access to the training to get the jobs that are available throughout this country. and in all of our districts. thank you very much for being here and coming to my district last year. and talking with my farmers. i really want to ask you about hemp. we look forward to having the opportunity to have possibly a third rotational crop in the midwest. and many of our local produces are interested in have. we see it as a valuable opportunity not just for the midwest but for our economy. i want to know how is the department working to implement the rules around the production transportation and the sale of hemp products? when can we expect to see a rule issuing? >> we are proceeding judiciously. because of the uniqueness of the crop hemp. and its relationship to other crops. that we are not encouraging.
nonetheless, it eis complexed. we are working to develop these rules. our states are able to continue under the 2014 rules that we have there. until we can get that we don't believe it will be until the 2020 planning season. we can have the definitive rules regarding hemp. and going forward. there is a lot of interest nationwide in here. we would love to think that the potential for hemp agriculture is as great as the anticipation is. that remains to be seen. we will proceed slowly to make sure that we don't have another situation where farmers overcompensate and blow out a market before it can get started. >> you expect that to happen mr. secretary? >> i think our farmers are very
productive. >> you know my district and i know you are correct. our farmers are very productive. thank you for that. any other ways you think we in this committee can work together to help you through this process? >> passing off ideas or impediments from your constituents are always the best way. we rely on feedback. they typically will reach out to you before we hear from them. sometimes not necessarily, we hear from them as well. if you have ideas or questions about that, pass them along. it helps us to be better. >> i appreciate that. one last question. a bill was recently introduced that would direct the epa to cancel the registration of -- i understand your department does not approve these pesticide registrations. you understand the importance
of this tool in the agriculture industry. i have heard from many producers regarding this issue. i wanted to give you an opportunity to discuss the importance. >> it would be devastating, and so many crops of the crop potential chemical was not renewed. it would be very damaging. we believe the signs justify its use. and the labeling that has been there. we would recommend and encourage epa to defend that. we are also recommending that the department of justice defend any threats against that as well. >> one last question, the farm bill requires udsa to issue a final rule to strengthen organic enforcement by 2019. can you provide how they plan
to meet that deadline? is there anything about the timeframe that you are concerned about? >> we have paid attention to that. that is an accountability date line. i think auditing and enforcement process, we are aware of the counterfeit knockoff of imports that are not truly organic and used. i think we are on it. the things we will do in compliance with the farm bill can be met and will be met. >> thank you mr. secretary. >> thank you mr. chair. i want to add as many as my colleagues did thank you for coming to visit the city -- state of maine. you did a wonderful job. talking about broadband and organic vegetables and you covered the gamma in our state.
i also want to thank you for the roundtable you created on food waste. bipartisan work you have been doing. that is helpful. recognizing the importance of dealing with food waste in our country. 30% of the food is wasted. that is a huge resource. i have a couple of questions. there is never enough time. climate change has come up a little bit. in this hearing. i want to make sure as a committee we don't toss this off as a joke. there has been joking around about how we are going to have to stop eating hamburgers. or maybe cows will have to take pepto-bismol.
i have a few beef cows on my farm. it's hard enough to get those guys into the trailer when they have to go to freezer. if i had to give them a dose of pepto-bismol every morning that would not work out. i have been to uc davis where they are doing some interesting work on seaweed in the diet. which i guess reduces the amount of methanol. that is great. we produce seaweed in maine. it could be a good partnership for all of us. there is a lot of positive things we could be doing around recognizing the role that farmers can play in climate change. many of our conservation practices encourage that. pastor farming is a good way to do that. we need to look at this in a positive perspective and think about how farmers can be a great part of the solution. we can support them in that in ways that are good for their economic output, and good for our environment as well. at some point we need a serious conversation about that. >> i do believe our farmers are very much dmindful of that effort.
>> i believe you do. i understood the humor. i totally appreciate it. i do need to talk to you briefly about something that has come up. i am one of the people who doesn't suppose the proposed relocation and reorganization of the two usda cultural research agencies. my concern comes from around the science of this. i know there are members and one of my colleagues mentioned it would be great to have in her home state of missouri. i'm sure a lot of people would love to have it moved to their home state. missouri is no closer to maine than washington d.c. we don't see that as an advantageous move. i do not disagree with the idea
that reorganization is good and not everything has to be in washington. there could be negative affect. the reorganization of ers, by injecting politics into the st work. there have been concerns. the 2019 budget proposed a cut to ers by 48%. you know there has been mistrust and concern about this. i just would like to hear your thoughts on this. i hope you will continue in the dialogue of many members of congress who do not support this potential move in reorganization. >> i hope we can have a dialogue. i know it's beyond the scope of this hearing today. i will give you my initial reasons. let's have a lengthy discussion so i can further give you my reasons for this. you mentioned for scientific integrity on ers and alignment on the chief office of economists.
the office of the chief economist, you may know or not know is a career position. it is a career person. the alignment of the chief economist as a scientific economist and agriculture we feel like is a better alignment of the economic research service and alignment. you will have the administrator of ers or career person reporting to a career person, which we think lis more divisi than reporting to a political undersecretary. i know there has been rumors about scientific integrity. i have been confused about it.
i look forward to hearing, and hopefully persuading you all of our reasons and the benefits that we see in doing that. i am serious about that. hopefully you will take me up on that and let's have a further discussion. >> i am aout of time but i absolutely will take you up on that. i will take you up on talking more in depth about the role of the udsa and helping us work on the climate change challenges. thank you for being here today. >> the gentleman from pennsylvania? >> thank you so much chairman. it is good to see you. thanks for your leadership. please extend my appreciation to your staff as well. every american would wake up in the cold ugdark and hungry. i wanted to start out with touching base with the number one commodity, the number one industry is agriculture and dairy. we have eahad lengthy conversations on that.
the fiscal demise of our dairy farms have tracked heavily, starting in 2010. when we lost our entire generation of milk crackers. this committee, education and labor that starved our kids for nutrition when it came to milk. they demonized milk fat. the science was bad. the science is clear today. i have a friend that shared with me the studies of today. i want to thank you for implementing the 1%, no fat and flavor option back to our schools. i think that better serves the needs of our kids. from a nutrition perspective. and quite frankly, i think as a result of that we are seeing the demand for milk largely increase. the future looks good. more than we need to do.
i know not to ask your opinion on specific pieces of legislation. i want to check with you on the issue. i have introduced along with the support of these two gentlemen to my right. as original cosponsors of the whole milk for healthy kids. i know you have jurisdiction over school meals. in terms of nutrition. any thoughts on that initiative? i'm not asking for your opinion on the specific bill. on restoring an option among other options for whole milk in our schools. >> thank you sir, i think you are probably aware of my answer from our personal conversations. we would be supportive of that. we have just announced the dietary guideline panel. which is a very balanced panel. you talk about demonizing or disparaging milk or whole milk.
we went through that with eggs over cholesterol. now they are okay. we need to have the latest scientific research guide us in these areas. for the most part i do not see, i don't believe child obesity is caused by drinking too much milk. i would welcome some guidance in there from congress. we will be certainly delighted to implement those kind of rules. you are probably aware of the allegations and the concerns when we did that. we were trying to rollback different things. if you look at what we did we did not rollback a lot. we said let's see what is working and let's not and proceed very closely. nutrition is very important. ant it had to come in out of the hearing but new farm bill does
kyle date or correctly the price for high quality alfalfa hay is >> this does require the price for alfalfa hay to be calculated. to help the program adequately reflect a dairy farmer the usda should begin incorporating this price place into the dmc. as the usda, have they directed to begin collecting the data yet? >> not yet. this is part of the implementation of the farmville roles we are working on and from my direction, i'm not aware but much good work goes on that i'm not aware of and they may have already begun but i'm not aware of it . >> one of the most important things we do that we mentioned climate change and i think this committee takes a leading role because we have jurisdiction over forest.
this is the world's best carbon sink so we've done great work with the last two farmville's the national forest service as it comes , told us to, . >> i want to comment right away , i think agriculture doesn't get the credit for carbon capture many times in the forest and annual crops, so, agriculture and the growth of plants are very important from a carbon capture perspective.
usually i don't see them included in the calculations of a carbon fit, that's not quite accurate, it's carbon negative, let's take the air and manufacturing topsoil . >> let me see, the gentleman from california . >> thank you mister chairman, welcome secretary perdue. i look forward to you visiting my district as a german recently did a few months back. hopefully we can arrange something like that in the future. california and the west of the western united states fake unique ranching and farming obstacles different from those of the midwestern and southern states, specifically might district on the coast, home to diverse agriculture ranging from strawberries to wine grapes avocados and other
specialty crops, all of which require intensive labor farmers in my district have reported millions of dollars in losses of crops due to labor shortages. the shortage of inadequate labor forces one of the greatest challenges facing u.s. agriculture today, our broken immigration system is at the heart of this issue and i believe we must finally take action to legalize existing at workforce while implementing a viable program to provide a future flow of labor. in your testimony, you emphasize the need for farmers to have access to long-term solutions regarding the stable workforce. what are you doing as secretary to address the challenges our farmers are facing in securing a reliable workforce due to the broken immigration system? >> we don't have priority in those areas, but one of the
things we are doing is being an advocate for everyone who will listen to regarding those in areas that do have authority. we are working with the department of labor and the department of homeland security and the department of state for the guesswork to make this more viable. were also encouraging congress and administration to look at a comprehensive immigration bill. the last time we tried to do that was when president bush was here and we got close but it didn't happen. i think again we looked at various components regarding border security or chain migration, i think there's enough equity for everyone in their and certainly our interests are in the egg labor and we encourage the white house as well as others to look at immigration policy, comprehensively, to make sure that we have enough workers not just in agriculture but other places that when you have
unfilled jobs that need workers certainly low skills or merit- based high skilled workers, so we think it's in the best interest to have a comprehensive legal immigration system to go forward . >> thank you, i think that was in 2013 when the united states senate came up thwith the compromise that the house was not able to move forward i'm not sure if that was under bush or obama . >> the last one i recall was the bush proposal but you might be right . >> thank you, mr. secretary. it's also clear that the need for mechanization continues to grow. in your testimony you ndmention farm bills, significant investment in usda research, can you tell me how the usda plans to ensure the prioritization of research into mechanization for labor intensive agriculture commodities to the implementation of the 2018
farmville? >> again, as part of the research overall that we do as you asked me to ensure the usda does that i think some would be concerned that the secretary of agriculture was in directing the integrity of scientific pursuit, we have people to determine the best method going forward . >> thank you very much. yield my time back . >> the gentleman from florida . >> great to see you again and i appreciate the hard work you've done in implementing the farmville and your leadership. i think what you've done on the snap program is monumental in the right thing to do as you quoted president roosevelt and we saw what president clinton did and other residents, that
is the right thing to do and we will support you in any way we can. with the technology we have today and i've brought to the usda's attention and i think you are privy to these meetings, when we brought people in from the duval county sheriff's office on the fraud that was being implemented in the ebt program by vendors, have you move forward on that to make sure that is sagone away and we had someone at a meeting who said there is a minimum of $1 billion in fraud in the ebt vending and possibly up to four to $7 billion? >> it's a constant pursuit and certainly removing out one of the areas is trying to get the for you interests, when we go against the retailer that we have reason to believe is defrauding the taxpayer in the program, they get stayed
through the consequences if they file a foia request and it's those kind of legal terms, they are certainly cottage industry attorneys that take advantage of the rules and it's those kinds of things that we are trying to minimize. we believe the data collection system that were going for, the multistate data that will help us ito determine if people are double dipping in other places put the retailer fraud, continues to be very frustrating . >> i think if we bring that person back up here, it needs to be a full committee omhearin wearable side see this but it's not a republican or democratic issue, something breaking the integrity of the snap program
as it was designed and people are getting hurt and these are the ones it was designed for . >> i want to touch base on something rodney davis brought up, along with the same bill i heard there was another coming up, to ban life estates for use, how detrimental would this be for agriculture? >> i think it would be very consequential from agricultural production. i hope that the culture of the united states does not pursue the european model, the technology freezone i call it in the eu. this has been a help. if you look at the preponderance, we like to call ourselves science sound base. if we look at the science it's overwhelming, regarding the safety. i'm very concerned,
talking about the lack of safety we have in the food supply system . >> it's just like the argument over the gmo's, we have scientists that say there's no human risk of this and its science-based versus what's in the internet. going down that with the technology,, the fda would've been the one making the rules, we want to make sure people are moving forward. as you are well aware would dairy cows they can do technology and do a long haired holstein shorthair. they can remove the testicle genes in pigs and farm them out without testicles because the eu doesn't want domestic animals castrated. what do we need to do on this body to help the rulemaking process?
do you have recommendations on that so we can move forward? >> you left out the d horning . >> i hope the committee would take that and move with it. it has jurisdictional issues to be for the record it's not taking genes from some other organization, plant and animal and placing it in an animal for the fear of frankenstein . >> it's a gene that's been proven in many species and i would hope if we don't do this that we will see the united states lose its lead as far as the technology leader and not help us .
>> chairman. the lady from iowa . >> thank you mister chairman thank you secretary purdue. i want to thank you for all you are doing for our ultra community. we are big players here and i appreciate that and helping to get the fsa office open during the shutdown. that was instrumental in helping farmers and i appreciate that. as you are probably aware, iowa state university that one of the nation's top agriculture institutions released a report showing that iowa's entire economy has negatively affected by the trade tariffs and u.s. net farm income has fallen by almost 50% down from just five
years ago, how close do you think the president and china are to reaching a trade deal. they are done when they're done i have to go back to my constituents with another better answer than that, what can i tell them? >> you can tell them that you can believe they are substantive, meaningful trade negotiations. i think i sense that and you know i'm not at the table ted mckinney has been in the agricultural sectors and they've been leading these principal to principal. but based on my observations in the oval office, i think there's a sincere desire on both sides to resolve the trade disputes.
as has been from the beginning, the ball is in the chinese court. we will not have an agreement without fundamental understanding that the intellectual property transfer, illegal transfer must stop and enforce about that. that the future of the united states economy. i believe we are making progress , but i don't want to raise expectations either, for you to go back and say, well, perdue said we will have it by this time. i'd love to be able to do that if it were my ability then i would give you the date in an hour but they don't give me that authority . >> would it be safe to say that within this quarter or a few months? >> as you know, the latest delay of these additional tariffs, the president announced this past week over a delay in that i believe he and
the president of china will meet face-to-face again before the end of mark and if were going to have a deal i think we will have a deal pretty much there, at that point in time. but that means when you make a deal at the principal level there are a lot of details to work out. that's what they're trying to do ahead of time line by line over the nontariff trade barriers, next question would be what he recommended to the president as the minimum amount of soybean sales we can expect to see in a deal, specifically i'm wondering what is the floor you are looking at? 50 million metric tons? what can we plan on ? in the spirit of negotiation, i'm not sure it's appropriate
to answer that question in public today. we have a list, not only of soybeans but of feed grains, a couple products you are interested in, ethanol and ddg's and corn and sour gum and other things, beef and poultry, a variety of things. you not any enumerate different levels. negotiations are negotiations, what is the capacity? we've put proposals on the table, china has come back with that but it's not appropriate to do specific digit negotiations in public . >> get a plug in there for e 15 of my 15 seconds, i appreciate what you're doing and i want to echo my peers across the aisle to say that iowa really relies on the ethanol industry, 2.1 million acres of harvested corn goes into that and we know the
waivers went to extremely profitable refiners while our hard-working iowa phi mers didn't get the opportunity, what can we expect in the future? >> you understand the waivers are controlled by the environmental protection agency. we've advocated long and hard over the rulemaking about that. would have agencies of clearance and so we are putting a mountain there for waivers in the perspective portion. i believe administrator wheeler when he says you'll see a different type of enforcement going forward i trust them in that regard and i think he's been very supportive. he also made an attempt to have the shutdown not occurred, we be able to see that you 15 rules before driving season, now it won't happen but we encourage them to announce discretionary enforcement of that soon .
>> thank you for your continued efforts and please help us continue to put that money back in the hard-working farmers across the country and not just to support very profitable countries. thank you . >> the gentleman from georgia, missed her alan . >> thank you mister chairman and mr. secretary you've been here an awful long time so i will just make some very quick remarks. i do think for the benefit of those here two years ago you were sitting there and we were talking about farm income and commodity prices and how farm income has dropped roughly 55% which is been a tremendous impact on our industry. throughout the nation and of course, you we could offer up at that time was to renegotiate trade deals because we were getting taken advantage of with
dumping issues and also in asia. so, here we are an obvious the from a trade standpoint you've addressed all of that, thank you for your hard work. i know you've been a big part of these negotiations and you are a farmer and a friend of the farmer and we thank you for what you're doing in that regard, but obviously, the sooner we can get that done the better for our farmers because, we are in planting season and what i'm hearing is, the current cotton prices, i don't know if i want to plant cotton so they're trying to make decisions and the other thing is the disaster funding, please continue, i know from your side you been down there and looked at it and we were picking 1400
pounds an acre before the storm and after the storm we were lucky we were getting 400 pounds but, it stills a tremendous impact on farmers and we were gonna have a heckuva crop before the storm here, it's really devastating but we've got to do something and we had the blueberry freeze and with that, you have addressed all these things, broadband is another one, the economy would really benefit and we need to really, this body has a lot of that responsibility but certainly you have a big voice and those are the things i hear over and over again when i go back into the district.
anything that you haven't shared with us that you'd like to share as far as, where we are going and how we get there? >> i appreciate your mentioning many of those things i would tell you, if congress saw fit to see the power of appropriation to the usda we would cure that disaster tomorrow, but i don't think that's gonna happen. nonetheless, we are willing and able to implement as quickly as possible. there are serious issues, i'm agriculture, my friends are agriculture, and they are pretty rational complainers sometime, it's a dangerous situation, >> that's why we pass the legislation we did before christmas, to get the disaster relief in there before we left for christmas but then of course it didn't go anywhere, then we had a terrible government shutdown so it's been
bit of a mess but listen, thank you for being here this long, thank you for your service, your great georgian and a mentor and hero when i appreciate everything you do for us . >> thank you, that's an awesome responsibility. >> okay gentleman the gentleman from california, mr. cox . >> thank you so much for staying so late and sharing your time with us. your testimony might not be as titillating as some of the other hearings but i think it's much more substantive. as you know, i come from the 21st congressional district, the top agricultural district and just last year, california became the world's fifth
largest economy attributed to lots of things, financial services, technology, left out of that story is our state's agricultural industry in rober iger and's. as you know the rural regions are some of the most beautiful and bountiful places in the world that produce our commodities for all americans, food, water and open spaces. farmers and ranchers are the cornerstones of these economies and when they succeed, our communities succeed. one crucial piece of this success is the u.s. da rural development programs. as you well know, you've been there and you can attest that our district throughout the central valley they are very world but the problem i keep hearing that when i talk to these communities, is that they can't access the programs because of a myriad of definitions of what is rural as
defined by the usda. so, i like to hear what the administration is doing to make sure these programs are available to communities so they can access this federal assistant . >> you've hit on a very serious issue but unfortunately it's not determined by usda, it statutorily defined in these definitions and i encourage this committee to look at a common definition of a rural that you can direct in many programs regarding access. we are limited to defining rural as under 20,000 in many places, under 10 in some other places, we'd love to have a common definition because rural places might've been 10,000 or 20 now, 40 and 50 and still need help and growth, water,
water treatment plants and others in a more definitive way. we'd love to have a comprehensive definition of rural. we hope to get that in the farm bill but it was not one of the things we could agree upon . >> if that's why we elect congress and sit on the committee, we've certainly talked about this a little earlier and testified and i'd like to hit on it again. with regard to disaster relief, we really haven't talked about the causes of disasters in the first place and once again, how does the issue of climate change affect and guide the forecasts, policies and programs of the ag department? >> were trying to do better forecast on a long-term basis. our drought monitors and things like that aside from causes we are trying to mitigate the effects with better research of crops and seeds and practices regarding cover crops and things like that, but have
better polity water runoff unless carbon footprint and less trips across the field and those kinds of things, limiting that all of those practices. i think our producers are doing a much better job, they are much more aware than they have been but we can always do better . >> thanks so much, to reiterate, we would all like to see you back in california sometime soon . >> i will come to your district, i've already been to theirs . >> secretary, i yield back the rest of my time . >> the gentleman from kansas . >> thank you, >> you been patient . >> i appreciate you being here, the folks back home are concerned about how the fda is handling t and ending. i walked out of an sse committee and the folks from i assume oregon state or
washington state is about the oyster gene editing, they think the supervision otte, under the usc jurisdiction. i just want to know your thoughts on what we can do to work in a direction? >> again, we believe certainly from an agricultural perspective , we can implement those issues in a very safe way and i think we demonstrated that there are food safety inspection service. obviously, fda has some equities that we may not have in the beginning of the science of that but i would hope that we can come to some resolution between your committee and the jurisdiction over fda, so that we do not lose out in the technological advances of gnaws transgenic gene editing going forward.
we have a trade problem today because this country's leading research and development for over 70 years in better productivity. if we lose the lead internationally, we are at the beginning going down, so i'm hoping we can resolve this, it shouldn't rely upon jurisdictional issues that are to be based on science, because, if we take as long to approve these kinds of things as we've taken to approve pharmaceuticals, it will again be located outside of the boundaries of the united states . >> i want to talk a little about the dealer statutory trust that you may recall that i started off working on the family farm is my first real job working in a barn and to the last farm bill
we provided file society this act a little bit and what the impact would be and wanted to know if you have any type of up date on what the timeline looks for it . >> you taught me unawares and on brief, congratulation that we will answer your question by written comment later expect i apologize for that, moving on, for my dairy producers, obviously in the new farm bill we have new programs going on and i'm still trying to wrap my arms around all of them both options . >> what is the timeline look like going forward on any words of advice i can give to my producers back home? >> i would probably say you are to encourage her wheat producers to go into the dairy business with the new farm bill
, net refunds for those in the prior program, those refunds we expect to be around april 30 in that way. the paper transfer for the first two years of the program has impeded the progress of that we could've done it sooner, the calculator of what should determine should be around april 15 of where they should participate we believe the retroactive insurance participation march 18 allows farmers with insurance retroactive and the sign up, we think for the new dairy program will be around june 17 i think the payments, initially may begin as early as july 8 . >> speaking of wheat farmers, they are asking about the sign-
up for. sign-up and the wheat situation in china maybe talk a little about the arkin plc sign-up and the wheat situation in china . >> yes, the arkin plc of the sign-up where we are hoping to be around september 1, there was an earlier statutory requirement but that was the assumption. it will affect the 2019ã2020 crop .
>> you will back that? spent . >> the lady from illinois hello mr. secretary, you've got goods them in a. i went and had lunch and came back and had a couple meetings and came back i talked to you before about the ag lab in peoria, very important to my region, we share peoria with congressman lahood, we have a democrat and republican represent the town and work hard together to make sure that the lab is doing well. the big concern is with the thought of closing, is the largest you have 100 phds that
walk through the door every workday and turn of 50 people total. they've done things and i think you're aware that they came up with the math distribution method for penicillin. thereon a great breakthrough they think they found a mosquito repellent that's more effective than deet. they've got a lot of great things coming out the door and your stated commitment to ag research is applauded. what can we see going forward? to make sure the door stay open? can we grow? >> we propose submit them to the national capital reason. >> okay. joke . >> [ laughter ] probably careers at omb have been after these labs out here in the country for the past two years. i did a hissy fit about the need
you're probably getting 5 million's invitation to go to districts but i'd love for you to see this wonderful art deco era building that amazing work that comes out of that. would love to have you if you think you could fit into your schedule >> we appreciate the invitation. we try to get to the labs and other usda facilities 90% of the region, we try to get around and encourage folks and let them know that we still know they are part of our family expect we would host you in grand fashion if you could make it. >> another question, i've been to cuba a couple times the rodney davis and i did a bipartisan ag tour of cuba to look for what markets we have potential to trade in. trump doesn't seem as open as having cuba as a trading partner. we have some funding to look for expanding our markets but
in a thought you can share with us about your feeling of growing our relationship with cuba as an egg partner? and try to do the same thing. probably eliminating the restriction over the market access program we are using now down there. the real issue with cuba is cash and they don't have the resources to do that. we are still shipping poultry and rice and other things down there but they can do more if they really have the money and have been supported by sponsors around the world and obviously there is conversation with venezuela having supported the fuel and energy initiatives and that certainly is cloudy right now but we would love -- if cuba were able to -- i've been in business and i would love to sell customers but if they
cannot pay you, you did not need their business. that is the problem right now with cuba. i think we are sitting right on the doorstep ready whenever they are able to get financially able to buy our products we are sitting on the doorstep ready for when they can get financially able to buy our products . >> thank you, my time has expired and i yield back . >> the gentleman from kentucky . >> thank you very much, it's always an honor to have you before our committee. i'm a big fan of yours. i brag on you and the good work you are doing. it's great to have you here and i wanted to talk to you about tobacco being from kentucky i
probably had the biggest, if not one of the biggest tobacco districts in america. mr. secretary, the fda is mounting a federal assault on tobacco growers. in kentucky and throughout the south in two years, we've seen more tobacco regulations out of the fda than the entire ag years under obama. my biggest concern is about dark tobacco growers. as you may know, the mass mid geordie of dark tobacco is grown within 100 bios of atkins ville kentucky. the previous administration dropped a midlife that would wipe out the entire american moist smoke was tobacco category and wipe out the dark tobacco growers in kentucky. tobacco growers are truly struggling with the fda. with proposals adding the economic challenges that they face.
and you assure you would continue to educate rules opposed which impact tobacco producers and throughout the united states #>> yes >> i appreciate that, we've had this conversation before any support farmers, the rule is unattainable, and and there's just too much uncertainty right now within the tobacco industry. there are only two types of farming in kentucky that a young beginning farmer can do for cash flow and that's tobacco and poultry . >> that's my next question and i appreciate you bringing that up. we are really excited in kentucky, the first state to start legally growing industrial hemp. we have 35 processors in the state and i know sarah mcconnell has spoken to you
about the hemp industry and i know that it's a bureaucratic nightmare to come up with rules and regulations with the new emerging industry. we had a lot of learning experiences when we began a very small program. i just want to offer my assistance from my experience regulating a new industry, the hemp industry in kentucky. when you come to trying to implement the new law, i believe that what you said is exact we correct with respect to we as farmers, we do a good job producing anything, give us time and we can overproduce it in a short period of time. so, i think that there are a lot of potential pitfalls out there that could probably be avoided from a regulatory
standpoint and i'd love to continue that discussion with you i know we have people that would offer their assist and the last thing i wanted to mention and i will yield back that we post all of our committee questions on facebook and the farmers call every day, i know you've answered this question and you times but could you give us a quick update of where we are with trade and especially with the soybean market? >> again, i think we are cautiously optimistic. i believe substantive progress is made over the last two weeks in the last two visits, us there and them here. but, again, i don't want to prematurely raise expectations. there's work to be done and we've made progress on instructional reform but there's more to be made and there are hurdles here in agriculture over structural
areas to reach the kind of numbers that we want to see and they would like to commit to. with lettuce take some things and change some things and we want to see those to happen. we assume the best and we have to continue to work hard . >> kentucky farmers support un president trump . >> we do rely on you and commissioner corals, a unique crop new and emerging. connect, ms. hayes. >> thank you, secretary. thank you for being here today thank you gentlemen. the lady from connecticut, please. >> thank you for being here today and i apologize for my tardiness i had another committee assignment but this is my committee for agriculture representing connecticut's
fifth district bringing forth the voices of our small family farmers and inner-city students who rely on programs like school nutrition and snap. i want you to know that one in eight people in connecticut are food insecure 17,000 children, as a teacher i know how important snap and programs like school meals are for my students in the classroom. i have to add this because i hear a lot of talk about the economy and trade and production and as a history teacher i know that one of our basic functions of government as outlined in the constitution that she promote general welfare as well. i hope and recognize as a member of the committee that children are our responsibility. kids don't learn when they are hungry. when we are talking about these programs, children can go to job training programs,
were talking about able-bodied adults and snap programs and i just hope we don't forget that most of the people who receive these benefits our children. i appreciate the work that the department has gotten done. i thank you for what you did to maintain the operation of nutrition programs including snap, school meals and with during the partial government shutdown. we have heard from schools, food service directors and commodity directors that the shutdown had an impact on their ability to distribute food for schools, can you outline what was experienced and the implication of the short and long-term that the shutdown had on nutrition programs and what is the department doing specifically to address this impacts? >> i am sure they must've been and i appreciate your compliments regarding that. we think probably most things were taken care of. we did backflips to make sure
the february snap benefits were done, states participated and cooperated magnificently with us to get that done by submitting files by january 20 enabling them to continue to do that. that was a heroic effort with the food and nutrition service people and we are very proud of that. i think we've recovered in most all aspects, we see with numbers going down but that's a function of the economy as well in that way. i would remind you, and i appreciate your passion for children and as an educator, you understand that i was with school nutrition services and talked about feeding bodies, fueling minds and how important nutrition is for education and learning. abawd, the wd stands for
without dependents, able-bodied adults without dependents expect thank you pics like you also outlined a plan to relocate and disruptively restructure the economic research services under the office of the chief economist. as you know ers is responsible for assessing food insecurity in the united states, this is critical information for policymakers who oversee nutrition assistance programs. ers also conducts research to assess a new person programs like the one mentioned are working to to reduce hunger and improve the health of americans. relocating the agency will have significant impacts on this important work, did you or the department consider any of these impacts when developing this new proposal #and what specific steps as the department taken to mitigate these impacts . >> we did try to take all of those considerations into play. first of all, the work and
research are discussed will continue to go on in that way. there will be a cadre of leadership to remain here in a leadership perspective to visit with congress to answer questions, to appear in all those research functions, so we do not anticipate losing any of that capacity from ers or no effect from that move. we did consider that and we believe aligning the ers, economic research service, under the office of the chief economist, he's like the chief scientist the undersecretary called the chief scientist, the chief economic scientist is the career person in the office of
the chief economist. you have a career person reporting to a career person, which we think is less like lee to have political influence over the outcomes or trying to cook the books regarding the outcomes >> sorry we went over the time spent no problem . >> thank you for the questions. y good friend from california, mr. panetta. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i appreciate my position on the dais as i get to be closer to the secretary and other witnesses throughout this. thank you very much for this opportunity. mr. secretary, good afternoon by now. always good to see . >> we get to be closer to the secretary and other witnesses throughout this, thank you for the opportunity. good afternoon, it's always good to see you and we appreciate listening to you although i've got to say i was by surprise you got some today in the question and answer session.
>> i think they studied a long time to do this . >> if we knew what type of doctor this was that would be a reason why this stumps us. i obviously want to say thank you for all your work and coordination with ambassador light kaiser. in dealing with current issues in regards to china as well as the upcoming deal. i was just in a hearing this morning and we had a good discussion on that and with some of your answers we are hopeful that some thing occurs in an agreement is reached, the dc additional mitigation funds ? i do not, sadly. ld be devastg to markets if we don't see a success here, and we don't know
how badly that would be, but -- and we'd have to make those recommendations at that point in time. the motivation and the reason behind the mitigation payments in 2018 is that the trade disruptions began after the planning and farmers could not plan for that. so i hope that farmers will look at the market signals today, make their the trade disruptions began after the planning and farmers could not plan for that, so i on hope farmers will look at market signals today and make their determination over marketing the same they would over any other year . >> obviously, you know as well that, although farmers appreciate those types of mitigation funds, there about trade and short-term bailouts and business and with that some of the markets that we have a and loss, are you coordinating with ambassador light kaiser to ensure some of the markets we
lost were gained back? >> were taking the lead in that through ted mckinney and the for nag service people around the world we are the kind of salespeople when it comes to the deal and the contract, the ustr serves as the lawyer there to write the contract and blessed the deal. that is there statutory responsibility, but we are outselling everywhere. i think that we can recover the market and that's why we talked about the market access program , the $200 million of the market facilitation program that goes to market access and building markets in places where we haven't had markets and showing up current customers . >> great. thank you. >> i have a letter here dated january 25 that was sent to the usda in regards to early issuance of snap benefits, your
question and answers you send out and i wonder if i could get this to your staff to make sure it gets on your radar if that's okay . >> i think we have it i was there not a timeline of reply ? i think that is what my staff told me because we like to reply by now but i thought there was 90 days or something . >> i didn't see a timeline on this . >> please give it to me . >> talk to me about, if you could how is kristi boswell and the progress of the work she's been doing in regards to immigration? >> i think the progress we're making from a regulatory perspective from dol and dhs is due to her efforts in looking to guide their regulatory language. we've also committed to lend her
to the white house folks to help work on the ag labor program of a comprehensive immigration proposal so, she is very much a necessary part of our operation because you've heard me say before, trade labor regulation over and over any part of the country . >> quickly, i know the farm bill is giving you a new program to respond to pest and disease outbreaks and i think the example with the newcastle outbreak and the usda's response is a good example, how is that process coming along? the flexibility you have plans to continue to apply it . >> this is a proposal dealing with the vaccine bank from a lab network. it will go a long way and certainly when we get to the point of determining the right technology but in working with the department of agriculture
in california, we've got to get ahead of that. we've been somewhat unhappy regarding the progress because of the backyard birds in the issue and it's moved out of california. and this would be devastating. we need to work diligently and that together but secretary ross, hopefully we have new abilities to accomplish those things . >> it's a pleasure and we look forward to seeing you in southern california expect thank you gentlemen. we are going to wrap this up, are you happy with that ? >> do we have to? [ laughter ] >> i want to recognize the ranking member for closing statement . >> thank you mr. secretary got your letter stamina is very
impressive. i want to get on the record that i'm in full support of your efforts to reform the waiver abuse that's going on, me and my colleagues either intentionally or unintentionally conflate children, the disabled and elderly. these are able-bodied adults without dependents and they need to focus on that. the house version that passed the house did address this waiver in conference with colleagues across the buildings, we are both in agreement that the waiver issue is being abused across the nation and needed to be reformed they were worried it would affect senators and couldn't get it passed but that the best path forward was to do it by regulation and that you have the authority of the able-bodied adult a change you
will be making. i am hopeful this hazard can continue to be addressed by example, today california has a 4.2 percent unemployment rate. 55 out of 58 counties are under a work waiver. everyone in my colleagues in california mention the lack of labor to be had in the agriculture industries. so, there are jobs available, maybe not the job they necessarily want but a job as a job so having folks have the initiative to get off the welfare programs and go to work is particularly important. so, i am also aware that there will be certain groups out there that will prevent is of ample comment periods, suggesting changes in the way the counties are counted and they come together and i hope you guys will pay attention to that but i fully support what you're doing and will get this implemented to get this mobile
hazard address across the country. >> thank you gentlemen. i want to thank the secretary for being able to sit there this long, it's not easy at our age to do that and we appreciate it. this last thing, one last thing, when the shutdown was going on, i was getting calls from producers and employees about what was going on for the office . i went to visit offices and went in there when the first- round opened up to three days and i talked to employees went back when they opened up full- time because they'd gone out
and got on unemployment and they finally had the money pay the rent and that didn't go over all that good but i found out the employees, as whatever they are doing they were able to be paid your lawyers or whatever decided the fsa peep couldn't be. but other than that i have drafted a bill which says, it's not completely right but what it says is, somebody is administering a ccc mandatory program like an fsa, they would not be laid off they would be paid out of the ccc. for whatever length of time the
shutdown happens and when it's over who would pay them back. i'm gonna give you a copy of what i'm working on, i'd like you to take a look at it to work with us but there's no sense, if they're doing mandatory programs, there's no sense in us, if we have another shutdown hopefully we will have another one but there's no sense not to have them working, they're gonna get paid anyways so that's a way to deal with it. >> i think we'd be happy to look at that for any legal issues or pay processing issues. the best solution is no shutdown . >> if you guys take a look at it and have your most problematic lawyers look at it.
>> the pass it around and hopefully will never have that problem again so thank you very much for your patients and hanging in there and all the members appreciated the opportunity to visit with you and the questions and look forward to working through the issues to getting the farm bill implemented. thank you very much. we are adjourned. [inaudible conversations]
[inaudible conversations] saturday morning american history tv has all day coverage of the annual symposium from the american civil war in richland starting at 9:30 am eastern. featured speakers include john meacham for discussing america then and now, elizabeth baron on southern unionists, cassandra newbie alexander talks about the importance of african-americans in the civil war and catherine looks at military history. of virginia tech civil war studies professor paul quickly questions why the war took place, followed by closing remarks by edward aboard president of the american civil war museum. watch the american civil war museum annual symposium i live
saturday morning on american history tv on cspan-3. on saturday remarks from president trump at the annual conservative lyrical act conference. you can watch his remarks as bernie sanders announces his run for the 2020 residential election begin to voters on brooklyn college campus saturday at eight p.m. eastern on c-span.. cory booker speaks at the blood he sunday service commemorating the 1965 movement for voting rights and the march where demonstrators were beat back by alabama troopers on the bridge. you can watch the speech sunday
. >> this weekend book tv will be alive from the tucson festival of books from the grounds of arizona university starting saturday at noon eastern featuring brooke wilson with his book, everything trump touches dies,, offered lynn vincent with indianapolis, the true story of the worst disaster in u.s. naval history and the 50 year fight to exonerate a man. professor and author greg grandin with his book the end of myth from the frontier to the border wall in the mind of america. on sunday live coverage continues at 3:30 p.m. eastern with dave: and his book the birth of the movement and then newsweek nina burley with her book golden handcuffs to