Public Statements & Remarks

Opening Statement by Commissioner Summer K. Mersinger Before the Agricultural Advisory Committee Meeting

December 07, 2022

Good morning and thank you to Chairman Behnam for organizing this important meeting of the Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC).

With so many significant topics to discuss, I am certain today’s meeting will be extremely interesting and I am looking forward to hearing from those who will present before the advisory committee today.

As many of you know, the agricultural derivatives markets we regulate at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are near and dear to me.  These markets are the backbone of this agency, just as the agriculture sector is the backbone of our economy.  Well functioning ag derivatives markets have a direct impact on the prices that consumers pay for everything from a hamburger at a fast food restaurant to the cup of coffee many of us require to start our day.  Issues related to these markets are truly pocketbook issues.

The agenda for today’s AAC meeting hits on a number of issues that are top-of-mind for those in the production agriculture sector.  From the economic impact agriculture faces from extreme weather to the risk of market destabilization caused by unpredictable geopolitical events, the topics discussed today will paint a picture of the hardships and hurdles this sector must manage day-in-and-day-out.

Growing up, when I would ask my Dad about his day after he returned from his fields, I think the phrase I most often heard my Dad use was “hopefully tomorrow will be better.”  I always thought this was such a pessimistic outlook and I would often lecture my Dad about having a more positive perspective.  But, in hindsight, it was a positive perspective.  He knew that storm clouds always faded into clear skies, that poor yields would eventually improve and that prices would eventually rise.  In fact, I now know that anyone in production agriculture must have a positive outlook on the future, or they would have given up after their first year on the farm.

Yet with so many factors out of their control, that optimism might seem naïve and misguided.  However, it is not only the grit and strength of those in the agriculture industry that keeps them going, even in rough times.  It is also the ingenuity in this field of the economy, which brings about new technological advances that improve everything from the seeds planted to the equipment used to harvest.  This ingenuity is also at work in identifying new ways of farming and new opportunities for revenue on the farm, and I believe we will see this reflected in the presentation on sustainability in agriculture.

Finally, our role at the CFTC is to make sure our agriculture futures markets continue to serve as price discovery and risk mitigation tools for those involved in this sector.  Hearing directly from an exchange about how price limits have evolved in the ag markets allow us to fully understand how well those markets are meeting their intended goals, especially during the volatile times we have seen over the past few years.  I appreciate the focus on those limits in today’s agenda.

Each of the CFTC’s five advisory committees provides numerous benefits to the public and to the agency and, as I have said before, government regulation without public stakeholder input is destined to fail.  The AAC provides a meaningful forum for the Commission to learn from those intimately and significantly involved in the production of food and fiber here in the US and around the world.

Thank you to Chair Behnam for convening today’s AAC meeting, thank you to the staff here at the CFTC who make these meetings possible, and a special thank you to Brigitte Weyls, the new designated federal officer for the AAC.  BrigitteI would like to say that you have big shoes to fill…but I suspect that might sound a bit self-serving.

And last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of the AAC members for your knowledgeable input and support of our mission here at the CFTC.  We are grateful for your public service.