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First U.S. House Committee on Ag's Opening Comments
by KayDee Gilkey, click here for bio
Program: Farm and Ranch Report
Date: February 17, 2017
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Conaway: “America’s farmers and ranchers are facing very difficult times right now. This is something that the Federal Reserve, the Agricultural & Food and Policy Center, the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, USDA, and even The Wall Street Journal agree on. Farmers and ranchers have endured a 45 percent drop in net farm income over the last three years, the largest three-year drop since the start of the Great Depression. The most recent ERS report now tells us that net farm income will be down again in 2017. Overall, ERS is forecasting a 50 percent drop in net farm income since 2013. It’s hard for any of us to imagine our income being sliced in half. We are told that 1 in 10 farms are now highly or extremely leveraged. Nominal debt levels are at all-time highs and real debt levels are approaching where they were prior to the 1980s farm financial crisis. Yes, interest rates are lower and that certainly is a mitigating factor that differentiates our situation from the 1980s. But, as the recent Wall Street Journal article stated, and as I have experienced as a CPA in West Texas, there is real potential here for a crisis in rural America.That is why I am so eager for Governor Perdue to be confirmed. Even as we work to develop a new Farm Bill, the Secretary of Agriculture may well be called upon to help struggling farmers and ranchers. Let’s all pray that a good crop and better prices this year will make that unnecessary.”
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