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Opening Statement by Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson State of the Rural Economy
“Thank you Mr. Chairman and welcome back to the Committee Secretary Vilsack. I’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve been here during your seven years as Secretary but we always appreciate your time and your advocacy for those of us in rural America. I look forward to your testimony today.
“As the Chairman indicated, we are taking a look at the rural economy today. The Committee takes on this review annually and for the past few years we’ve been able to point to strong farm prices as a reason for the rural economy’s success.
“While the rural economy remains strong, folks are getting concerned about the potential long-term impacts of deteriorating prices. Of course, this is why those of us on the Agriculture Committee work so hard to pass a farm bill every five years. I do have some concerns with the current bill but it’s at low price times like this that the bill’s safety net is so important.
“I think it’s also worth noting the importance of crop insurance. Despite what critics would lead you to believe, the crop insurance program is an effective and responsive tool for farmers. I hope this Committee will remain united against calls for cutting the program.
“With that, I know there are a lot of issues members will want to raise today so I will yield back.”