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Committee on Agriculture Hearing: State of the Rural Economy, Ranking Member Peterson Opening Statement

Opening Statement by Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson (D., Minn.)

Committee on Agriculture Hearing: State of the Rural Economy

February 11, 2015

As Prepared for Delivery

“Good morning. Thank you Chairman Conaway for holding today’s hearing and thank you Secretary Vilsack for joining us today. Welcome back to the Committee.

“Today we are looking at the rural economy which, over the past few years, has done very well. I think that’s partly why it was so difficult to get a new farm bill passed. It’s good we were able to get it done though because the farm bill provides a safety net to farmers during difficult times. With declining commodity prices and weather-related challenges across much of the country, its important these new programs are in place.

“Even with the budget savings the new farm bill provided, I remain concerned about attempts to reopen the bill, whether by making changes to crop insurance, SNAP or any other farm bill program. This is a very bad idea and could put everything we worked for in jeopardy. I hope that this Committee will remain united in opposition to additional cuts to farm bill programs. Quite frankly, the Agriculture Committee has done our work.

“With regard to USDA’s implementation of the farm bill, I’ve generally been pleased. We didn’t make this easy, some of the programs are more complicated then I would’ve liked, but it seems like things are on track. I look forward to the Secretary providing an update on the department’s progress.

“Again, I thank the Chair for holding today’s hearing, I look forward to hearing from the Secretary and I yield back.”