The Senate Ag Committee held a confirmation hearing for President Obama’s pick to head the USDA mission area that administers farm safety net and export promotion programs. Michael Scuse, who’s served as Acting Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services for nearly a year, painted a glowing picture of the U.S. farm sector.
"This year net cash income and net farm income are record in nominal terms and adjusting for inflation are at their highest levels since the early 1970s," Scuse said. "Farm credit is still tight for some but expanding more and more in many sectors of agriculture and total farm equity is up. U.S. agricultural exports for fiscal year 2011 reached a record $137.4 billion. Taken as a whole, the United States in the midst of experiencing the three best years in history in terms of agricultural exports."
But Scuse pointed out this has also been a year of unprecedented disaster for farmers and ranchers, from rain-delayed planting to flooding across the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio river basins, record drought in the Southwest and hurricanes in New England and the mid-Atlantic.
"These disasters only emphasize the importance of a strong and effective safety net for those farmers and ranchers who need it," Scuse said. "This is a moment of great opportunity in agriculture and I will not downplay the hard work that is needed nor the long road that lies ahead of us towards the next farm bill."
Scuse, a farmer from Delaware, professed to be a strong supporter of crop insurance, telling the committee he carries coverage on all his crops. His nomination faces no known opposition.