House Agriculture Committee begins two-day review into USDA agencies

Sep 15, 2015

Today, Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) and committee members began Part I of a two-day hearing series to review the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organization and program administration. USDA officials from the Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (FFAS), Natural Resources and Environment (NRE), and Research, Education and Economics (REE) served as witnesses. 

By examining each of USDA’s seven mission areas and their respective agencies, members of the committee gained a fuller understanding of the department’s purpose and goals, programs and services administered, budget, and workforce. 

“This week’s hearings with USDA officials are helpful as we continue our committee’s work to seek solutions that ensure stability and consistency for farmers, ranchers, consumers, markets, and rural communities. USDA employs nearly 100,000 employees and spends approximately $150 billion per year administering hundreds of programs throughout the country, most of which were enacted by this committee. That’s why it is vital to have this open dialogue between committee members and USDA officials while gaining a mutual understanding of each other’s work. I appreciate representatives of FFAS, NRE, and REE for appearing before us today and look forward to continuing this conversation tomorrow,” Chairman Conaway said. 

“It’s beneficial for Committee members to have the full picture of the work being done by USDA’s various mission areas. Having an open dialogue with the department is important to ensure that USDA is operating in the best interests of our constituents and implementing programs as Congress intended. This hearing was an opportunity to get a progress update on changes called for by the 2014 Farm Bill and look at some of the challenges and opportunities in agriculture today,” Ranking Member Collin Peterson said.

Written testimony provided by the witness from today’s hearing is linked below. Click here for more information, including Chariman Conaway's opening statement, and the archived webcast.

Witness List: 

Panel I

Ms. Alexis Taylor, Deputy Under Secretary, Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Mr. Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Mr. Phil Karsting, Adminitrator, Foreign Agricultural Services, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Mr. Brandon Willis, Administrator, Risk Management Agency, USDA, Washington, D.C.

Panel II

The Honorable Robert Bonnie, Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Mr. Jason Weller, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Ms. Mary Wagner, Associate Chief, Natural Resources and Environment, USDA, Washington, D.C.

Panel III

The Honorable Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary, Research Education, and Economics, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy, Director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Dr. Mary Bohman, Administrator, Economic Research Service, USDA, Washington, D.C.
 
Ms. Renee Picanso, Associate Administrator, National Agricultural Statistics Service, USDA, Washington, D.C.