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Chair Stacey Plaskett Opening Statement at Hearing “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Horticulture and Urban Agriculture”

WASHINGTON House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Chair Stacey Plaskett delivered the following statement at today's hearing titled “A 2022 Review of the Farm Bill: Horticulture and Urban Agriculture”

[As prepared for delivery]

Good morning and thank you to my colleagues and our witnesses for joining me today as we review the 2018 Farm Bill Horticulture Title and Urban Agriculture. This will be a two-part hearing where we will hear from USDA Under Secretary Moffitt and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Cosby on our first panel, followed by a second panel with industry stakeholders and producers.

The Horticulture Title of the farm bill covers programs that support the specialty crop industry, USDA-certified organic products (crops and animals), hemp, local agricultural markets, and more. In my district of the U.S. Virgin Islands, farmers are mostly small and local producers. Many of these producers participate in programs such as USDA’s local agriculture programs, among others, so today’s topics are very important to me.

While other farm bill titles can benefit these sectors, today’s conversation will focus on the Horticulture Title provisions and the specific provisions related to urban agriculture in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Some of those provisions include the creation of the Local Agriculture Market Program to support the development, coordination, and expansion of domestic direct-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets, and value-added agricultural products and the establishment of an Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production at USDA to provide Urban Ag producers resources to take advantage of USDA programs and initiatives and to promote urban, indoor, and other agriculture practices.

Other provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill also enhanced enforcement of organic products, limited programmatic fraud, developed new technologies, strengthened USDA organic certifications, and provided organic producers with accurate data collection to ensure that organic agriculture is part of climate smart agriculture solutions.

Producers in these sectors have also been able to leverage programs in the Horticulture Title to face the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move toward a greater sense of normalcy, we are invested in making sure producers and the industry have the necessary resources in this space, particularly when it comes to addressing the unprecedented supply-chain disruptions and challenges to market access many producers experienced during the pandemic.

Today's hearing presents an important opportunity to conduct oversight into programs from the 2018 Farm Bill and consider how we should best support producers and stakeholders.

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