EAST LANSING, MI - U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today joined Chairwoman Deborah Stabenow (D-MI) at a committee field hearing in East Lansing, Michigan on reauthorization of the Farm Bill.
The field hearing is entitled "Opportunities for Growth, Michigan and the 2012 Farm Bill," and will be hosted by Michigan State University.
The following are Senator Roberts' prepared remarks:
"Madame Chairwoman, thank you for bringing the committee out to Michigan for our first Farm Bill reauthorization hearing.
"Dr. Simon (Dr. Lou Anna Kimsey Simon, President of Michigan State University), I appreciate you hosting us this morning.
"Madame Chairwoman, it is appropriate that our first Farm Bill hearing takes place at a research institution.
"As I've said before agriculture faces a great challenge. Global population continues to grow at a rapid pace...exceeding 9 billion in the next several decades. That's a lot of bellies to feed.
"At the same time, emerging economies are demanding higher value proteins, grains and specialty crops.
"In order to meet this demand, agriculture must double output.
"The key factor in doing so is technology...and that starts at universities like Michigan State, Kansas State and other institutions where agriculture research is a priority.
"I also thank our producers and witnesses on the second and third panels for joining us today. Your perspectives on current agriculture programs and the direction of this next Farm Bill are critical to the committee's work in drafting policies that provide producers and rural America with the tools necessary for success.
"Some folks question the need for a Farm Bill with commodity prices where they are today. I don't have to tell this crowd that prices can fall much more quickly than they rise.
"Without an adequate safety net many producers will struggle to secure operating loans and lines of credit to cover input and equipment costs. We need those producers to stay in business if we're going to meet this global challenge.
"Unfortunately our farm programs aren't the only policies that affect production. I'm also looking forward to hearing from today's witnesses about the impacts of federal regulations on their operations.
"Kansas producers continue to tell me that federal regulations from outside USDA pose just as great a threat to their ability to feed a troubled and hungry world as anything else.
"In a time when the future of agriculture production so heavily impacts our national security, why would we do anything from the federal government standpoint to hinder their efforts?
"Madame Chairwoman, you have convened a diverse panel representing the wide range of issues under our committee's jurisdiction. I look forward to their testimony and tasting the fruits of their labors while we're here in Michigan."