Hoeven Arranges for ND Producers to Give Direct Input to Secretary Perdue on Trade Negotiations, Farm Bill Implementation

HARWOOD, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today brought US. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to North Dakota to meet with and hear directly from North Dakota producers. Given the challenges in farm country, including low commodity prices, retaliatory tariffs and natural disasters, Hoeven outlined the importance of:

  • Finalizing trade agreements as soon as possible, like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) as well as negotiations with China and Japan.
  • Securing additional commodity sales while negotiations continue.
  • Implementing the 2018 Farm Bill in a farmer-friendly way.
  • Providing adequate access to credit so producers can maintain their operations.

Attendees at the senator’s meeting included Governor Doug Burgum, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, North Dakota Farm Service Agency Director Brad Thykeson, USDA Rural Development North Dakota Director Clare Carlson and representatives from a wide range of the state’s commodity and farm groups. 

“This visit is all about ensuring North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers have their voices heard,” Hoeven said. “Times are tough in farm country, and it’s vital that Secretary Perdue receives this input firsthand and brings it back to the administration. We continue working to ensure that the administration advances trade agreements across the finish line, provides more commodity purchases and implements the farm bill to best serve our producers, which includes providing enough credit to keep their operations going when revenues are low.”

Finalizing Trade Deals & Securing Commodity Purchases

The senator has been working with the administration to advance trade with Canada and Mexico and secure the USMCA’s approval in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Specifically, his efforts include:

  • Eliminating Canada’s downgrade of U.S. wheat to feed grade and helping make certain that grading standards and services are non-discriminatory.
  • Lifting the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico while Congress considers the USMCA. This would aid in the removal of retaliatory tariffs and help lower prices for farmers who rely on equipment made with steel.

Hoeven also continues to urge the administration to resolve trade negotiations with China as soon as possible to address its unfair trade practices and provide better access to Chinese markets, particularly for farmers and ranchers. Additionally, the senator has pressed for:

  • Further commodity purchases, like China’s commitment to buy an additional 10 million metric tons of soybeans as well as its purchase of 300,000 metric tons of corn, the largest since October 2013. Hoeven has repeatedly raised this priority with President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary Perdue and Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council and the president’s chief economic advisor.
  • Market access in China for fresh potato exports, which Hoeven advanced as part of a bipartisan, bicameral group and has been included on every bilateral agenda between the two nations since 2000.
  • The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) rulings against China’s grain price supports and its tariff-rate quotas (TRQ) for wheat, corn and rice. The senator fully backed the U.S. Trade Representative’s compliance case against China. 

The administration will be visiting China next week to advance the negotiations, and China will follow-up with a visit to the U.S. the week after. In addition, President Trump met with the Japanese Prime Minister this week and plans to continue negotiations during a trip to Japan in May. Japan is the U.S.’s fourth largest agriculture export market, behind Canada, China and Mexico.

Farm Bill Implementation

Hoeven, who served on the farm bill conference committee, has been working to ensure that the 2018 farm bill is implemented in as farmer-friendly a way as possible. Today’s meeting provided producers with the opportunity to provide feedback on implementation directly to USDA.

Access to Credit

Hoeven outlined his efforts to provide producers with access to the capital necessary to fund their operations. Earlier this month, FSA increased the limits for its ownership and operating loans, consistent with the Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act, which Hoeven secured as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. Specifically, FSA has increased the limits for:

  • Guaranteed Operation and Ownership Loans from $1.399 million to $1.75 million.
  • Direct Operating Loans from $300,000 to $400,000.
  • Direct Ownership Loans from $300,000 to $600,000.