Hoeven: Appropriations Committee Supports Acre-for-Acre Mitigation, Water Management, Strong Ag Research

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the committee has approved the Fiscal Year 15 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. The senator also served on the Senate-House Conference Committee that negotiated the final version of the new five-year farm bill.

“We have worked hard on the committee to include strong water management and flood protection measures like the Water Bank program, as well as acre-for-acre mitigation, which will make conservation compliance much more farmer friendly,” Hoeven said. “The measure also supports strong ag research, which is vital for our farmers and ranchers and a benefit to NDSU, which is a national leader.”

As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Hoeven worked to include support for North Dakota priorities, including the following:

Acre-for-Acre Mitigation – Language is included to support the secretary of agriculture using acre-for-acre mitigation in working with farmers to meet the conservation compliance requirements. Hoeven fought hard for this provision as a member of the farm bill conference committee.

Agriculture Research – Maintains $2.4 billion for ag research, which is critical to keeping our producers on the cutting edge of their industry, as well as for America’s land-grant institutions, such as North Dakota State University, adding value to agricultural production and improving environmental stewardship.

Water Bank – $4 million. This program compensates farmers and landowners for flooded land by allowing ten-year conservation agreements for those who voluntarily protect wetlands.

Continuous Conservation Reserve Program – The bill includes making CRP funding eligible for the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement program, which allows producers to create habitat that is beneficial for wildlife. This is a win for farmers, wildlife and sportsmen.

Circuit Rider and Grassroots Source Water Protection Program – $15.9 million for circuit riders technical assistance, which helps train rural communities to properly manage, operate, and maintain their water systems. Also, $6.5 million for the Grassroots Source Water Protection program, which works through rural water associations to encourage voluntary practices that protect ground water from pollution..

Pollinator Health – The committee recommends an increase of $4 million for research into bee health within USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in addition to encouraging increased prioritization of pollinator and Colony Collapse Disorder research proposals within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). North Dakota is the nation’s number one producer of honey.

The measure also provides support for alfalfa growers, potato breeding research, deer farmers, veterinary medical loan repayment and preservation of Farm Service Agency county offices to help deliver 2014 farm bill education and sign-ups.