WASHINGTON — Less than two years after passage of the 2008 farm bill, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act, the House Committee on Agriculture took to the road during the past few weeks to conduct a series of hearings on the 2012 farm bill. The full committee held its first farm bill hearing on April 30 at the Iowa state fair grounds in Des Moines. Subsequently, hearings were held in Nampa, Idaho (May 1); Fresno, Calif. (May 3); Cheyenne, Wyo. (May 4); Morrow, Ga. (May 14); Tory, Ala. (May 15); Lubbock, Texas (May 17), and Sioux Falls, S.D. (May 18). Additionally, the agriculture committee heard the testimonies of agricultural policy experts and academics in Washington on May 13.

Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota, chairman of the agriculture committee, said on the occasion of the first farm bill hearing in Des Moines, “This hearing is the first step in the process of writing the next farm bill. A bill this large and that covers so many important issues takes a lot of time and effort to get it right, and I am committed to a process that is open, transparent and bipartisan. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and from all regions of the country to be sure that we put together a bill that supports the food, fiber, conservation, energy and rural developments needs of this country.”

Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, the ranking minority member on the committee, said, “We must make sure that our producers are equipped with an adequate safety net to provide Americans with the food and fiber they need. As we travel throughout the nation, the feedback we receive from our producers will give us a good sense of how current farm bill programs work in practice and what improvements need to be made.”

With the exception of the hearing with farm policy experts held in Washington, most witnesses providing testimony to the committee were farmers or ranchers.