Senator Hyde-Smith at ‘State of Rural America’ Hearing

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today stressed the importance of a farm safety net and rural infrastructure development during her first hearing as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Hyde-Smith posed several questions to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who was the sole witness at a hearing titled “The State of Rural America.”
“As the committee continues work on the 2018 farm bill, I look forward to making meaningful contributions that result in responsible farm policy that meets the needs of America’s farmers and ranchers,” Hyde-Smith said.
Hyde-Smith asked Perdue whether the 2018 farm bill should protect the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program, a safety net option created in the 2014 farm.  Under existing farm policy, farmers may choose coverage through PLC or Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program.
“The PLC program has proven to be a very helpful form of assistance for Mississippi producers,” Hyde-Smith told Perdue.  “Given USDA’s future price projections, do you think it is important to maintain the structure of the Price Loss Coverage program, and ensure that the 2018 farm bill does not weaken PLC program assistance in any way?”
“I do,” Perdue said.  “I do believe probably that the PLC program will be chosen by more farmers, and the opportunity for them to switch from ARC to PLC is very important for their planning and safety net.”
After highlighting the need to expand broadband service in rural states like Mississippi, Hyde-Smith asked Perdue to elaborate on the potential benefits of President Trump’s infrastructure plan for rural states.
“I was pleased to learn that a large portion of the President’s infrastructure plan is intended for rural America.  There is a great need to rebuild roads and bridges, and to provide affordable utilities in many parts of Mississippi,” Hyde-Smith said.
Perdue said Mississippi ports and inland waterways could also benefit from the infrastructure initiative.
“All that commerce that drains the fertile heartland of America down through your state to the ports there and New Orleans are extremely important in that way.  We want make sure our ports and our inland waterways that support ag commerce are also included, as well as broadband,” Perdue said.
On behalf of Mississippi farmers, Hyde-Smith thanked Perdue for his leadership to eliminate numerous burdensome regulations during the first year as Agriculture Secretary.  In addition, she expressed gratitude for his support of Cotton Ginning Cost Share Program assistance for cotton producers.
“These actions alone have made a tremendous impact on Mississippi farmers’ ability to remain in business and continue producing the highest quality of food and fiber in the world,” Hyde-Smith said.
Finally, Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) today welcomed Hyde-Smith to the committee and announced her subcommittee assignments, which include the:
• Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade
• Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy
• Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources