Rep. Allen Advocates for Georgia-12 Farmers at Agriculture Committee Member Day Hearing

Today, Congressman Rick W. Allen (GA-12) participated in the House Agriculture Committee's Member Day hearing to highlight agricultural issues that are critical to Georgia's 12th Congressional District.

Congressman Allen delivered the following remarks at today's hearing:

"It's good to be back, and please know that we offer our prayers to your full recovery as well. I want to thank the committee for allowing me to provide this testimony and to highlight agricultural issues that are critical to the 12th Congressional District of Georgia.

"Agriculture is our state’s number one industry, and plays a key role in the economy of my home district and Georgia as a whole. Having served on the House Agriculture Committee for eight years, I appreciate the hard work that goes into writing the Farm Bill, which provides certainty for our farmers by authorizing farm policy for at least a five-year cycle.

"I was proud of the work that we did on the 2018 Farm Bill, like strengthening the farm safety net, expanding access to rural broadband, improving program integrity in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and protecting and strengthening sugar policy, and I believe we must continue to prioritize these policies.

"I remain committed to ensuring that America produces the safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply in the world as we continue our work on reauthorizing the next Farm Bill. There are concerns, and the number one concern that I have heard from my Georgia farmers these past two years is declining margins.

"We are in uncharted waters. They are in the fight for their lives to survive this crisis, primarily caused by inflation, supply chain disruptions, and rising input costs combined with depressed commodity prices. In fact, we haven't seen anything like this since 1982. Food security is national security. We have lived to regret our overdependence on foreign countries for our manufactured goods; if we do not act to properly support our farmers, this nation could become dependent on global competitors for food, which is a national security risk.

"I have continuously heard from my farmers that it is crucial we increase reference prices for Title 1 commodities in the next Farm Bill. It is also imperative that we strengthen risk management options such as Agriculture Risk Protection (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Specifically, I support allowing producers who are enrolled in ARC or PLC programs to be able to purchase Stacked [income] Protection Plan (STAX) coverage.

"In addition, I urge the committee to consider a provision to ensure our farmers have coverage should supply chain issues cause problems with planting or harvesting, like a requirement for including 'lack of agronomic inputs' as covered under USDA’s Multi-Peril Crop Insurance policies. Many farmers in my area of the country experienced financial hardships when the unusual supply chain disruptions were not accounted for by insurance policies.

"Regarding market prices, I encourage the committee to address failing market prices due to seasonal [imports]. Many farmers are forced to compete with foreign-subsidized imports, causing a large decrease in the market value of many seasonally-grown commodities.

"Congressman Austin Scott, my colleague, introduced H.R. 4580, the American Seasonal and Perishable Crop Support Act, during the 117th Congress. I ask that similar language to this bill be included in the next Farm Bill to protect our growers against foreign markets.

"Next, we need to address our workforce issues. Programs such as H-2A are critical for many farmers in my district, but they need reforms to become more widely-used by American farmers. Included in the House-passed H.R. 2, the Secure the Border Act, were provisions to conduct an agriculture workforce study. I ask that the committee fight for the inclusion of Sections 814, 815, and 816 of H.R. 2 in any immigration package considered by the House in the coming months.

"When it comes to our domestic labor policies, as a small businessman, I know the employment challenges that we face today. A top issue I hear throughout my district is the need for workers. We must discuss the income and employment requirements under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and get Americans back to work.

"I have one final point I’d like to raise for the committee’s attention. State lead agencies for pesticides, who often fly [under] the radar, work hard every day to keep homes, businesses, and schools pest and rodent-free. 46 states, including Georgia, have one lead agency for pesticides. We need to support and codify that each state should have a robust state lead pesticide agency in the next Farm Bill. This is an initiative I have continued to build support for over the last two Congresses, and I have seen first-hand how well the Georgia Department of Agriculture alongside key Georgia industries keep our public safe. Having multiple regulatory bodies in a state does not work, and is not effective for protecting public health and the environment.

"To wrap up, as we continue the process of writing the next Farm Bill, I hope to work closely with the House Agriculture Committee on these issues that are vitally important to Georgia’s 12th District. Thank you again to the committee for this opportunity to provide input and I welcome the chance to further discuss these topics as we ensure our nation’s food supply remains secure and sustainable."

Stay Connected

Use the form below to sign up for my newsletter and get the latest news and updates directly to your inbox.