The first hearing focused on trade and horticulture
By Diego Flammini
Members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held their first hearing related to the 2023 Farm Bill.
The Feb. 1 hearing focused on the trade and horticulture titles of the bill.
Multiple senators participated in the hearing.
Here’s some highlights of what lawmakers and witnesses said during the hearing.
Roger Marshall, a Kansas senator, spoke about Mexico’s plan to ban imports of GM corn by 2024.
He asked witnesses, which included Alexis Taylor, USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, and Sarah Charles, assistant to the administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, when the U.S. will take action on this issue.
“The Biden Administration has triggered USMCA’s dispute resolution system six separate times to complain about Mexican labor conditions. In the meantime, the Administration has refused to trigger the USMCA to contest Mexico’s planned exclusion of American corn…,” he said. “Our Farmers feel like this administration is putting Mexican assembly workers ahead of farmers…What are we waiting for to trigger this mechanism…We think it’s time for action…”
Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville posed a question to Taylor about federal programs.
Speaking about cotton farmers, Tuberville asked, “you know what MAP (Market Access Program) is and FMD (Foreign Market Development Program) is. Do you have any new plans for these two programs?”
Taylor responded with confidence in the programs but willing to work with Congress on any changes.
John Fetterman, the senator from Pennsylvania, also participated in the hearing.
He asked Moffitt what tools are needed to strengthen the state’s organic industry.
Moffitt responded highlighting how programs are in place to help farmers transition to organic production.
“So this is field-based, technical assistance, driven by producers and organizations in Pennsylvania to mentor new and aspiring organic farmers to be able to obtain certification as well,” she said. “So, rule making is very important and also the support that we need and the mentorship we need to grow and enhance organic production is a part of what we are working on.”
The next three Farm Bill hearing dates have already been set.
They’ll occur on Feb. 9, Feb. 16 and March 1.