Public Statements & Remarks

Opening Statement of Commissioner Caroline D. Pham Before the Agriculture Advisory Committee

April 11, 2024

Good morning.  Thank you, Chairman Behnam, for convening today’s Agriculture Advisory Committee (AAC) meeting and bringing this important discussion to the heartland.  I want to also recognize the committee’s Designated Federal Officer, Swati Shah, and all the staff who worked to make today’s meeting possible.  I know it’s no small task to organize a field event like this.  Thanks also to the Advisory Committee’s members for taking the time to share your expertise and help the CFTC better serve our stakeholders and commercial end users.  I grew up in the Central Valley of California, and my family owned orchards and I did 4-H.  These ag issues hit home.

There is no question that one of the most significant challenges facing American agriculture—as well as many other American industries—is the shifting geopolitical landscape and impacts to production and the entire value chain.  In fact, I have just returned from Asia where I was able to get on-the-ground perspectives about some of these challenges in my role sponsoring the CFTC’s Global Markets Advisory Committee.  As you know, I used to be a senior executive at a large global bank so I am very interested to hear more about agricultural lending and the growth of options in agricultural markets given price volatility in the commodities markets.  Regulations impact access to financial services, particularly for our smaller producers and growers, so it’s very important that we hear from you all.

These days, you’d be forgiven if you thought that the CFTC is primarily focused on crypto and speculators.  At least that’s what I see when reading through our news clips. But our roots are in helping ag producers access markets, discover prices, and mitigate risks.  And that continues to be at the core of our mission today. So, it’s great to be in Overland Park—in the heart of American agriculture—to examine the economic landscape for America’s growers and producers.

This region has a rich history in innovations to expand markets and hedge risk. Area merchants and producers established the Kansas City Board of Trade in 1856.  The first futures trades began here in 1876.  Today, the agriculture sector makes up roughly 13 percent of the state’s workforce, and contributes $81 billion to the Kansas economy, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture.  Nationally, America’s food and agriculture sectors account for more than $9.6 trillion of our country’s economic activity—about 20 percent of our total economic output.  These sectors directly support nearly 24 million American jobs. And of course, the economic benefits of American agriculture reach far beyond any state’s borders.  American ag products feed and fuel the world.  A world without a steady, safe and abundant food supply is a world without peace.

It’s not just about food. At their heart, ag producers are dedicated stewards of our land and environment.  You continue to deploy innovative conservation practices and develop alternative cleaner-burning fuel in a manner that continues to reduce the sector’s environmental impact.  These pioneering solutions are also presenting new economic opportunities for the ag industry, including voluntary carbon markets, which we at the CFTC have been focused on recently.

So ag producers contribute positively to our kitchen, our economy, and our environment.  But a farmer or rancher’s success often depends on factors outside of their control.  Your bottom lines could be dramatically altered by a storm cloud building on the horizon or a geopolitical storm brewing on the other side of the world.  It’s imperative that we understand the economic factors impacting the ag sector and do all that we can to promote access, fairness and stability to the ag markets.  This includes promoting price discovery, detecting and deterring market manipulation, and establishing new tools to keep pace with ag innovation.

Thank you to Chairman Behnam and to the members for their service on this Committee.  I look forward to today’s discussions agricultural lending and the growth of options in agricultural markets.