Farming and ranching is the cornerstone of rural Colorado's economy, and has always been an integral part of our way of life.
Agriculture Issues Farming and ranching is the cornerstone of rural Colorado's economy, and has always been an integral part of our way of life. In fact, the agriculture and food industry contributes as much as $40 billion annually to the state’s economy. America’s growing population continues to increase the demand on agriculture producers, which face a unique set of challenges including: water scarcity, access to public land and increasing environmental regulation.
As the Chairman of the House Small Business Committee's Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade, and member of the House Agriculture Committee, I am committed to preserving the prosperity of American agriculture by ensuring that our farms and ranches are both safe and productive. I will advocate for policies that allow farmers and ranchers to continue to provide job opportunities for rural America, affordable food for our citizens and an economic engine for our communities.
More on my work on agriculture issues:
As a member of both the House Agriculture and Small Business Committees, I frequently hear concerns from many family farmers and ranchers who are facing a mountain of new federal regulations. We all understand that these policies play a role in keeping our country safe; however one-size-fits-all regulation can be unnecessarily harmful to rural communities.
Providing greater regulatory relief—especially from legislation or agency rules that are duplicative and bring no added environmental or food safety protection—will enable agricultural communities to flourish and help get the nation back on the path to prosperity. While our nation’s farmers are expected to continue meeting the needs of a growing population, unnecessary regulations that increase burdens on American’s family farms are making production more costly and challenging—hurting jobs and economic recovery.
I have heard from agriculture industry representatives who have expressed concern over one-size-fits-all government regulations that have adversely impacted small producers. This is something with which I am intimately familiar. Many small operation farmers and ranchers in the Third District have told me of the challenges that these regulations pose and how oftentimes, compliance with duplicative or unnecessary bureaucratic red tape significantly diminishes an already lean profit margin. I’m committed to doing everything I can in Washington to have a positive impact on regulatory reform and advocate for agriculture and small producers.
I am pleased to report that progress has been made on this front. I was able to play a role in stopping the implementation of a rule that would have had an adverse impact on family farms, which according to the Department of Agriculture make up 98 percent of the 2.2 million U.S. farms and ranches. The Department of Labor was set to implement a rule that would have restricted the ability of family farms to provide on the job training for youth on farming and ranching operations. I announced a hearing in my subcommittee on Energy, Agriculture and Trade to examine the impacts this rule would have, and on the day preceding the hearing, the DOL decided to recind the rule. This is one instance where Congressional pressure had a positive impact on preventing an unnecessary and detrimental regulation from going into effect and I will continue to pressure the Administration when necessary to stand up for jobs in this country.
Additionally, we passed several pieces of legislation in the House in the 112th Congress aimed at stopping harmful regulations including H .R. 1633, the Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act.
With our nation's unemployment number still hovering at a historical high our country still struggling to crawl out of the economic downturn, it is imperative that we stop the advancement of these and other unnecessary job-killing government regulations so that farmers, ranchers and all small businesses can do what they do best—get people back to work.
Agriculture supports more than 100,000 jobs and generates $40 billion in economic activity each year in Colorado. In addition to domestic sales, much of that success stems from the ability of farmers and ranchers to export their crops to foreign markets. In the 112th Congress, the House passed three bills into law to increase trade opportunities with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, and my office held an event in the Third District to assist businesses in increasing exports by providing information and assisting with developing partnerships.
Potato farmers in the San Luis Valley benefit from increased trade opportunities, and my office is committed to advancing policies that open up new markets for Colorado agriculture. To that end my office has been involved in work with the Mexican consulate to increase San Luis Valley potato exports to that country.
Potatoes are a healthy and affordable option, and a traditional staple in school lunches. I have defended keeping potatoes in school lunches and will continue to do so. In the past, the Administration has waged an effort to have them removed. This would drive up lunch costs, and severely impact children who receive free or subsidized meals at school. I am pleased to report that currentlynutritious potatoes will continue to be served in school lunches. However, I will continue to monitor the situation should the Administration try to remove them from menues in the future. Read my op-ed on potatoes: Feds ignore food value of veggies.
Agriculture has been a bright spot in an otherwise challenging economic climate, and Washington should make it a priority to provide the tools, opportunities and resources Agribusiness need to continue to provide jobs and feed America’s growing population. I will continue to work toward that end and be a staunch advocate for our rural communities.
In addition to putting food on our tables, America’s agribusinesses provide valuable jobs and growth during otherwise challenging economic times. It is because of the dedication of our farming and ranching community and supporting industries, that Americans have access to some of the most nutritious and delicious food options in the world.
I joined my colleagues on the House Small Business Committee in holding an agriculture roundtable with representatives from the Ag industry to discuss their Farm Bill priorities. I heard a consistent message that research, conservation and crop insurance should take precedence in the next Farm Bill.
With approximately 96.7 percent of the 2.2 million U.S. farms defined by the Small Business Administration as small businesses, it’s important that as we discuss the Farm Bill reauthorization we keep in mind the majority of agribusinesses in this country are small producers. With the massive debts and deficits that our country is facing, it is imperative that costs are cut in nearly every sector of the federal government. However, there are valuable programs which support food safety, innovation, and agricultural security that should be prioritized.
I joined with my colleagues from the Colorado Congressional Delegation urging the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to pass a Farm Bill extension this year. Read the full letter here. We believe the Farm Bill represents a tremendous opportunity to support one of Colorado's and America's most crucial economic engines, to provide relief to farmers and ranchers affected by historic drought conditions, and to make a meaningful contribution toward our national debt and deficit reuction goals. I am pleased to report we advanced the Farm Bill out of the House Agriculture with a strong bipartisan vote in May on 2013.
The House voted in June 2013, on the Farm Bill. I voted yes. While H.R. 1947 (The FARRM Act) was not a perfect bill, it was a good first step toward reform that would have eliminated or consolidated more than 100 government programs, and saved $40 billion, including $20 billion in reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by eliminating waste, fraud and abuse while ensuring that those who are truly in need of assistance would have full access to it. These would have been the largest reforms since 1996, and were good commonsense steps. Unfortunately, H.R. 1947 failed to pass in the House.
The House passed a full Farm Bill in January, 2014.
Read more about the reforms in the Farm Bill here.
The Farm Bill included an amendment offered by me and my Colorado colleagues Reps. Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Mike Coffman (CO-06) and Cory Gardner (CO-04) to allow the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to lease new air tankers, at no additional cost to taxpayers, to fight wildfires. Read more about that amendment here.
There is little that is more important for our farming and ranching community than water. The natural cycle of rivers in the West is one of boom and bust, surplus and drought. But with proper water storage, economic cycles do not have to be boom and bust, recreational opportunities can be reliably provided, and water can be allocated where it is best needed to meet environmental, species protection goals and support our farm and ranch communities. Whether you are growing crops, grazing livestock, or merely living in a rural area, water rights are critical in Colorado. Many farmers and ranchers even use them as collateral to secure loans, expand their operations and create jobs.
Here in Washington, I support a common sense approach that embraces conservation efforts, protects existing water rights, as well as takes steps to responsibly store water for our growing farms and cities.
As a steadfast defender of state water rights, I stood up against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) when it decided to move forward with implementation of a permit condition to require the transfer of privately held water rights to the federal government as a permit condition on National Forest System lands.
Originally proposed in 1980 and done away with in 2004, this permit requirement was never enforced because even the agency suspected that it amounted to nothing more than the equivalent of a land grab by the federal government. In this renewed effort, the Forest Service is again trying to get its hands on Colorado water rights, putting the ski community, grazers and local businesses at risk of losing the water rights they have developed, invested as much as hundreds of millions of dollars in, and rely on to survive, without any compensation. Water rights are important to Colorado and many businesses depend on them as collateral to get loans, expand, and create jobs. This permit requirement is wrong and has no legal legs to stand on.
I have spearheaded Congressional hearings to draw attention to the extent that the Forest Service proposal would threaten deference to state water law and infringe upon private property rights, with a goal to raise awareness and prevent this federal takeover of state water rights from taking place. As the result of these hearings, I introduced the Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 3189) with bipartisan support to protect privately held water rights from federal takings. I remain firmly on the side of farmers, ranchers and industries that rely on the water rights they have developed for their livelihood, and will continue to be a vocal opponent against this reckless federal overreach.
For rural communities, families and businesses, the ability to thrive depends on having reliable access to a safe and affordable water supply. I successfully amended the Farm Bill (H.R. 6083) with unanimous support during a House Agriculture Committee markup to help the USDA better meet the water system needs of rural communities, creating local construction jobs and improving the safety of drinking water for rural Colorado families. This amendment was included in the Farm Bill that passed and was signed into law in 2014.
This amendment sought to expand access to private financing options for rural communities to build new water infrastructure or rebuild the existing water infrastructure. Once in effect, this will ensure clean, safe and reliable water supplies for rural communities, and create needed jobs in the process. My amendment was once again included in the Farm Bill being considered by the 113th Congress.
The budget deficit has limited the USDA’s ability to meet many of the direct loan and grant requests received for rural water and waste management projects, resulting in a backlog of more than $3 billion in applications from rural communities waiting to move forward with needed projects.
The amendment would have directed USDA to “encourage, to the maximum extent practicable, private or cooperative lenders to finance rural water and waste disposal facilities” by utilizing loan guarantees. The amendment would have encouraged the USDA to focus its own resources on the neediest communities while more closely partnering with private lenders whenever possible to responsibly leverage private sector lending, increase available resources, and better meet the water supply needs of rural communities.
- Chairman, House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade (House Small Business Committee)--As Chairman, I lead efforts to enhance rural economic growth, increase America’s energy independence and ensure that small businesses can compete effectively in a global marketplace.
- House Committee on Agriculture--Shapes federal agriculture policy and provides oversight of agencies through funding appropriations, programs, and other activities.
- Congressional Dairy Farmers Caucus—Devoted to advocating for U.S. dairy industry through increased awareness of the issues facing dairy farmers
- Congressional Beef Caucus--Committed to advocating for the U.S. beef and cattle industry through raising awareness of its importance in Congress.
- Congressional Western Caucus—Dedicated to preserving the West’s dynamic and unique culture, and to finding innovative solutions that address the distinctive concerns facing western and rural communities.
See what I’ve been working on in Washington:
- Tipton Holds Hearing on Proposed DOL Agriculture Youth Labor Rule
- Rep. Scott Tipton Questions Jon Corzine During Agriculture Committee Hearing
- Rep. Scott Tipton at House Ag and Natural Resources Committee Joint Hearing
- Rep. Scott Tipton Examines the Impacts of Planned Federal Hijacking of State Water Rights
- Tipton: The Last Thing Small Agriculture Businesses Need is More Regulations
- Rep. Scott Tipton Leads Hearing on Job-Crushing GIPSA Proposed Regulation
- Tipton Holds Field Hearing on the Big Impact of Energy Regulations on Small Business
- Pueblo Chieftain Op-ed: Feds ignore food value of veggies
- Delegation letter on importance of passing a farm bill
For more information concerning my work and views on the issue of agriculture, please contact my Washington, DC office.