Skip to Content

Press Releases

Ranking Member David Scott Opening Statement at Hearing with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

  • David Scott

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member David Scott today delivered the following statement at a full Committee hearing with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Watch the full hearing here.

[As prepared for delivery]

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today. The last time Secretary Vilsack sat before this Committee as a witness in March of last year, I spoke of beginning the farm bill process in earnest.

Nearly one year later, we are still working towards our shared goal of passing a strong, effective, and bipartisan farm bill. I hope that the testimony Secretary Vilsack provides today will help us get closer to that shared goal.

Changes in Republican leadership, potential government shutdowns, and the inability to pass the Agriculture Appropriations bill have each injected uncertainty into the process and unfortunately slowed our work.

I do not envy you, Mr. Chairman. You are doing what you can to navigate these turbulent waters, and to your credit, you have continued to meet and discuss policy priorities with me, House Agriculture Democrats, and our staff.

To aid these efforts and reinforce that House Democrats want to get a farm bill done, we published our farm bill principles last week.

Our principles should not surprise anyone who has been following the work of this Committee. We want to reduce hunger, strengthen America’s farmers, invest in sustainable agriculture, revitalize rural America, lower costs for farmers and families, and improve equity.

I know we can do this by working together because I know you care just as much about our Nation’s farmers as I do.

So, let’s put aside the proposal to cut SNAP benefits. Whether you call it a “cut” or a “reduction of future benefits,” Democrats oppose it. I understand my Republican colleagues are concerned about spending, at least when it comes to SNAP, but because the economy has improved, benefits and need for the program has decreased. The CBO is now expecting SNAP to cost $67 billion less over the next decade than originally expected.

Let’s also put aside the proposal to take IRA conservation or energy funding away from its intended purpose. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not going to result in an effective farm bill. These IRA programs are oversubscribed, so we should not take funding from them to pay for other farm bill priorities.

Let me close by saying that we do want a bipartisan bill. We want to see our bipartisan priorities funded. But we need to continue the funding discussion. Over the past 20 years, bipartisan farm bills have succeeded when Republican and Democratic leadership made the farm bill a priority and provided outside resources to the Agriculture Committee.

I look forward to hearing from you, Mr. Secretary, and to working with my colleague and friend, Chairman Thompson, on building a bipartisan bill that strengthens safety net programs for our farmers and the hungry families they feed.

It’s a tall task, but one that we can accomplish together.

I yield back.

Back to top