Public Statements & Remarks

Statement of Commissioner Dan M. Berkovitz—Meeting of the Agricultural Advisory Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Agricultural Commodity Markets

April 22, 2020

Thank you Mr. Chairman for convening this meeting of the CFTC’s Agricultural Advisory Committee.  I am pleased to join you in your first meeting as sponsor of the Committee.  I am also pleased to welcome Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.  Commitment and cooperation among all levels and branches of government are critically important as our country seeks to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic consequences, including in the agricultural sector.  We are meeting with the Secretary of Agriculture in this spirit today.

America’s farmers, ranchers, and other participants in the agricultural economy have long been a focus of the Commission’s work in promoting price discovery and effective risk management in derivatives markets and ensuring that these markets are free of fraud and abuse.  Last summer, I had the privilege of traveling the country to meet with farmers, ranchers, and agricultural market participants throughout the United States.  Each of these visits emphasized the importance of agriculture to the U.S. economy and to our national well-being through safe, abundant, and affordable domestic food supplies.  I saw firsthand how American farmers and ranchers were diligently working to overcome the threats posed by floods, tariff wars, and collapsing prices.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added a myriad of new existential challenges to our agricultural sector.  In this environment, it is critical that our commodity markets serve their purpose to help overcome these challenges, and not contribute to them.  We must ensure that the commodity markets continue to serve their intended functions of risk management and price discovery, so that farmers, ranchers, and others in the agricultural sector can manage the risks posed by the current situation.

I look forward to the discussion today, including with respect to livestock markets and processing facilities.  I thank each of today’s panelists for making the time to help inform the Commission so we can better ensure that CFTC-regulated agricultural markets are working effectively for all farmers, ranchers, and commercial businesses involved in feeding America during these challenging times.  Thank you.