Issue Position: Agriculture

Issue Position

Date: Jan. 1, 2011

America's agriculture industry leads the world in producing a safe, stable, and affordable food supply. As a native Texan I realize the important role agriculture has played in our state's history, and the increasing affect it will have on our future. The Sixth District of Texas is represented by a wide variety of agricultural markets, from timber, livestock and forage production in the southern counties to corn, wheat, soybeans, and cotton in the north. I have consistently supported a federal safety net for America's agricultural producers, and I will continue to do so in the future.

Congress faces a variety of issues that will affect the agricultural producers and consumers going forward.

The Federal Agriculture Safety Net:
Farm programs serve to stabilize food prices for consumers, while maintaining farmers' and ranchers' ability to stay in business during hard economic times. Congress must continue to examine ways to improve these programs to deal with constantly and rapidly changing market conditions. We cannot afford to let our nation's agriculture industry falter.

Food Safety/Bioterrorism:
America currently boasts the world's safest food supply. As global trade increases and production methods change, the USDA and FDA must continue to improve their ability to ensure safety throughout the supply chain. We must guard against not only accidental compromises in food safety, but also the threat of intentional tampering of our food supply by terrorist organizations. I will continue my efforts to provide Congressional oversight of these agencies to ensure the safety of America's food industry.

National Animal Identification System (NAIS):
I support the concept of a voluntary Animal ID program. While I don't believe that a mandatory system is necessary, I do think that a federally coordinated voluntary system could be beneficial to livestock producers who wish to use it to enhance production. I do not, however, feel that the federal government should over regulate the livestock industry by placing undue mandatory burdens on producers who may not see any economic benefit from it. We must let the market determine the need for such systems.

Renewable Energy:
The development of alternative and renewable energy sources is a vital part of our nation's energy future. However, mandates on renewable fuels are not the best way to promote energy diversity. Ethanol is a great example. Because corn is currently the only feasible feedstock for ethanol production, ethanol mandates have put an artificial strain on corn supplies. This rapid demand growth has led to higher costs for agriculture consumers and producers. This illustrates the point that we must first develop the technology to diversify ethanol feedstocks before we look toward mandates.