CASSELTON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee and member of the Agriculture Committee, today held a roundtable with producers in Casselton to gather input on the 2018 farm bill and to outline his work to support the state’s farmers and ranchers, including providing greater access to capital, regulatory relief and drought assistance.
“Our farmers and ranchers are facing real challenges from low commodity prices to severe drought,” said Hoeven. “We’re working to ensure that they have the tools they need to succeed. While our producers can’t always depend on the markets or weather, they should be able to depend on a strong farm bill safety net to help them make it through difficult times. That’s why strong crop insurance and counter-cyclical programs are among our top priorities for the 2018 farm bill. We also continue working to provide regulatory relief and ensure that our farmers and ranchers have access to the capital they need to maintain and grow their operations.”
Hoeven, who served as a member of the 2014 farm bill conference committee, gathered input from producers and outlined top priorities for the next farm bill including:
The senator is working to strengthen and prevent cuts to the crop insurance program, which is the primary risk management tool for many producers.
Hoeven secured $5 million for a pilot program in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill, and funding in the Senate’s FY 2018 Appropriations bill, to improve the fairness of ARC payment calculations, while exploring long-term solutions to the problem for the next farm bill.
The senator said he will work to extend the sugar program in a bipartisan manner, ensuring that American producers have a level playing field in the world sugar market.
Hoeven will work to include strong support for agricultural research, like the work done at North Dakota State University and the North Dakota Extension Service, to enhance crop genetics and production.
Hoeven recently reintroduced the Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to increase the Farm Service Agency loan guarantee amount from $1.39 million to $2.5 million and double the amount of direct loans from $300,000 to $600,000. This covers two types of loans and loan guarantees:
To purchase livestock, farm equipment, feed, seed, fuel, farm chemicals and insurance and to cover other operating expenses. It can also be used for minor improvements to buildings, costs associated with land and water development, family living expenses and debt refinancing in certain circumstances.
To purchase farmland, construct or repair buildings and other fixtures, develop farmland to promote soil and water conservation and to refinance debt.
Hoeven worked through the Appropriations Committee to defund the regulation in 2016 and 2017. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently issued a proposal to restore the regulations that were in place prior to WOTUS, which was issued in 2015. This is the first of two steps established by the executive order signed by the president in February.
Hoeven is working through the Appropriations Committee to ensure safe, low-volatility biofuels can be sold year round. To this same end, he has cosponsored the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act.
Hoeven cosponsored and helped pass a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to repeal the rule. This maintained multiple-use requirements for federal lands, including grazing.
Hoeven continues working to secure all possible support for farmers and ranchers to help them weather the drought and maintain their operations. This includes:
Securing a major disaster declaration for the state and calling on the president to provide additional assistance to affected producers.
Opening Conservation Reserve Program and Natural Resources Conservation Service acres for emergency grazing and haying.
Announcing assistance available under the Livestock Forage Disaster Program. Eligible producers could expect to receive payments per head of adult beef cattle of approximately $17 at the lowest level of drought to $84 at the highest level of drought. For payments based on grazing acres, payments can range from $1.40 per acre at the lowest level of drought for native acres to $28 per acre at the highest level of drought for improved acres.
Waiving regulations in North Dakota to allow agriculture producers and motor carriers to more easily transport hay, feed, supplies and livestock in response to drought.
Providing funding in FY18 Agriculture Appropriations to support the emergency transportation of hay and livestock.
Securing a commitment from the head of the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to ensure there are loss adjustors to assess drought damage in North Dakota.
Providing additional FSA staff and resources through the agriculture funding bill to prevent service delays in the areas facing severe drought.