Remarks by U.S. Secretary for Agriculture Sonny Perdue at G-7 Session one

U.S. Secretary for Agriculture Sonny Perdue speaking at the G7 Agriculture Press Conference in Bergamo, Sunday October 15, 2017

“Dealing with empowering farmers I think certainly is a challenge for all of us around the worlds”

October 14, 2017

(Transcript from audio file)

I’d like to thank Minister Martina and his excellent display of why we are all here.  Obviously it’s my first time visiting you all, and I look forward to getting to know each of you personally in my role of Secretary of Agriculture of the United States.

Dealing with empowering farmers I think certainly is a challenge for all of us around the world not only in our developed economies but those in less developed economies, and I think that one way we empower farmers is through economic empowerment and that does have to do with risk management as we look to the various tools that we use in our various countries. Mr. Macaulay has mentioned some of those from Canada, we have similar tools in the United States. Most of you are aware that we usually have four or five year cycles of the authorization of our Farm Bill which is before us now, we have the expectation of a new Farm Bill in 2018. These risk management tools are being discussed among Congress and among our stakeholders throughout the country now. I think frankly we are about time here. In 2014, I believe Congress in the United States made a great step forward using an insurance program, risk management insurance, for our producers in which they participate and have seen the gain to manage their risk of reduction and pricing.

I think our program’s fundamental concept is to provide for catastrophic risk in both weather changes where we all have acknowledged. As you are aware, in the United States this summer and fall, we’ve suffered from fires to floods and hurricanes and wind damage and other things that are really damaging and devastating many different crops from citrus to cotton to rice to cattle and others. But our program is designed, frankly in the 2014 Farm Bill we made the change from direct payments to a risk management system that I believe empowers farmers to make decisions for the market and not for a foreign program. And I think I would counsel all of us, that when we empower farmers, that doesn’t mean we need to guarantee their success. In my opinion, I think that we could provide a fertile environment where those who can be successful through using the various tools provided in risk management and can be empowered in that way by making good choices both from a production standpoint and from a marketing standpoint, both domestically in the supply chain and by country internationally in our trading relationships. So we will continue to make progress in the 2018 Farm Bill toward that, allowing our producers to make their decisions based on market signals internationally where the market is. Fortunately, even with the weather challenges we’ve had throughout the globe, we still have almost a world supply record of commodities today which are depressing those prices internationally and leads to let people continue to farm year after year.

So we want to empower them by helping them with the research in production and in marketing with technology and with guiding them to make the best choices they do. Our United States Department of Agriculture participates in that through our Agricultural Research Service, in conjunction with our wonderful network of land grant universities in the United States who can get that basic research, the applied research and then that wonderful extension service that delivers that education down to the farming families there. So I hope that we can continue that and we are willing to have discussions regarding our methods as we share different ideas of risk management around the world. We look forward to learning from you and sharing the things we have learned as well. We want to thank you again for the wonderful venue, the great tour you provided today in this beautiful and historic region of the world, I know it’s especially great for you Minister Martina as your home region and you are duly proud. Thank you very much for allowing us to join you today.