Our nation's farmers are major providers for our country - they provide the food we eat, fuels for our cars and trucks, and the materials for the clothes we wear. We must continue to work to help our farmers and ranchers continue to produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, and encourage new, value-added opportunities. Priorities should include:
- A continued countercyclical safety net for producers.
- Meaningful crop insurance that allows producers to hedge risks against weather and the market as well as allowing producers to insure against crop yield and quality losses and shallow losses.
- We must also work to open markets across the world to the products that we produce here at home, while maintaining a fair and level playing field for our producers.
- A permanent disaster title to help crop and livestock producers manage weather-related agriculture disasters.
- Enhanced renewable energy and conservation titles.
- 15 percent blend for ethanol fuels.
- Risk protection for livestock producers to deal with drought and feed shortages.
- U.S. Commercial Service and Foreign Agricultural Service should increase efforts to help state trade offices.
Senator Hoeven has a proven track record of working with state and federal officials to pass good policy that will help family farmers in North Dakota. This includes continued support to pass both the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, which included working with farmers groups to lobby for the incorporation of a permanent disaster title and crop insurance products that work for family farmers.
Crop insurance is an important part of the safety net for farmers and we must make sure there are adequate resources to help protect farmers and ranchers.
Too large of a cut in reimbursements in the Standard Reinsurance Agreement in Crop Insurance may force good companies to leave the program.
We must ensure good companies and good agents are able to participate in the program and provide services to ensure adequate support and coverage for farmers and ranchers.
In North Dakota, energy is a key and growing industry. From traditional resources, like coal and oil, to renewable resources like wind and biofuels, energy is not only powering our homes and fueling our vehicles - it's powering our economy. Thanks to our comprehensive state energy plan, EmPower ND, North Dakota has provided our energy companies with the incentives and certainty they need to develop our energy resources and implement the technology they need to produce more energy with good environmental stewardship.
Washington's approach to domestic energy development is to tax energy providers with Cap and Trade - or Cap and Tax. This approach will raise costs for families and businesses. It is already freezing investment of new technologies on the sidelines - technologies that will help our country produce more domestic energy in environmentally sound, cost-effective ways.
Instead of Cap and Trade, Congress needs to implement a comprehensive energy policy that will incentivize industry to develop all of our energy resources, both traditional sources and renewable sources.
A comprehensive energy policy should include - but is not limited to:
- Incentives to encourage research and development of new renewable energy and the technologies needed to develop our traditional resources in an efficient and clean way. This includes the development and use of horizontal drilling for oil, and clean-coal technologies like carbon capture and sequestration.
- A legal and regulatory framework that provides predictability and incentives to companies looking to start or expand carbon capture and sequestration operations.
- The infrastructure we need to get our energy from local markets to the national market.
- Incentives on the federal level to encourage the development of natural gas collection and distribution to collect this clean-burning gas and get it to market.
- Continued pressure on the EPA to increase the ethanol standard to E-15. This will help bring emissions from cars down and help bring the nation closer to energy independence.
- The continued development of a favorable framework for aggressive development of our wind energy resources.
Federal Farm Program
I have worked for and support a farm program that helps our producers deal with uncontrollable natural disasters and changes in the marketplace as well as encouraging new, value-added opportunities. Everyone benefits from good farm policy which helps our farmers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world.
The farm program includes a counter-cyclical approach, which is very cost effective relative to the benefits generated for all Americans.
Health Care Reform
Instead of government run health care, our country needs a common-sense approach that empowers people and gives them a choice in choosing their insurance and their own health care provider. A major factor in many peoples' inabilities to obtain insurance is the increasing costs of health care. Government control of health care will reduce competition, limit personal choices, and increase overall costs.
To truly reform the health care system, we must:
- Enact tort reform legislation.
- Create competition among insurance companies by allowing companies to offer plans across state lines.
- Increase portability of insurance.
- Crack down on Medicaid and Medicare fraud that costs taxpayers billions of dollars per year, and reform the reimbursement system.
- Create a cohesive informational technology system for health care information to increase efficiency and accuracy in sharing health records and files.
- Promote the purchase of long-term care insurance through tax credits to relieve the pressure of these costs on Medicaid.
- Promote meaningful prevention and wellness.
- Increase not only health insurance opportunities for disenfranchised children, but also work to get already eligible children enrolled in the CHIP Program.
- Reduce or eliminate denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
- Increase transparency of medical pricing to allow consumers to make informed decisions.
At this crucial hour in our nation's history, we need a plan that will create good jobs and fresh opportunities for all Americans. It is the private sector that creates the jobs and careers that will produce a higher standard of living for our citizens. But for too long, government has stood as an obstacle to business. We will work hard to put policies in place that will build a positive business climate and spur job creation and growth, as we have in North Dakota. That means:
- Reducing the tax burden;
- Working to simplify the tax code;
- Freeing the economy from unnecessary regulations;
- Lowering energy costs;
- Encouraging entrepreneurial investment;
- Developing new technologies; and,
- Establishing a strong financial position for the country, so that we don't burden future generations with unsustainable debt.
For too long the federal government has been deficit spending, setting a level of debt on our children and grandchildren that will burden them for generations. We cannot borrow our way to prosperity. It's time the federal government reforms its budgeting process to live within its means - just like we do with our home budgets and just like we do in North Dakota.
Round-Up Ready Beets
The court ordered Environmental Impact Statement would take the USDA two years to complete. Because seed is short, the EPA should authorize genetically modified seed and root-crop plantings in the meantime under a combination of permits and other regulatory measures.