Hoeven Discusses Efforts to Resolve Ag Transportation Disruptions, Bring Down Inflation & Provide Disaster Assistance

FARGO, N.D. – At the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber’s Midwest Agriculture Summit today, Senator John Hoeven outlined his efforts as the lead Republican on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee to:

  • Ensure farmers and ranchers have access to reliable transportation, including rail and ocean shipping services. This includes:
    • Sponsoring the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which was recently signed into law, to help American producers export their products.
    • Working with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to address rail backlogs before fall harvest.
  • Bring down inflation to help reduce costs for producers.
    • In particular, Hoeven stressed the need to empower U.S. domestic energy production, which will help bring down the price of fertilizer, fuel and other input costs.
  • Provide disaster assistance to help producers recover from last year’s historic drought.

The senator made the remarks as part of a panel discussion with Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Michelle Fischbach.

“With record-high inflation causing severe increases for input costs and ongoing transportation disruptions, our farmers and ranchers are facing real challenges that build upon the damage done by last year’s drought,” said Hoeven. “The disaster assistance that we’ve secured under ERP and ELRP is coming at an important time to help producers sustain their operations. At the same time, we need to get inflation under control and ensure farmers and ranchers can get their products to market. That’s why we continue to push back on the Biden administration’s policies that are driving the price of fuel and fertilizer higher, while working with the STB and through our Ocean Shipping Reform Act to restore access to reliable transportation.”

Addressing Transportation Disruptions

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act updates federal regulations for the global shipping industry and helps address supply chain challenges by prohibiting ocean carriers from unreasonably declining shipping opportunities for U.S. exports. As one of the four lead sponsors of the bipartisan legislation, Hoeven, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), advanced the bill through the Senate in March, followed by the House of Representatives passing the bill earlier this month. 

At the same time, Hoeven has been pressing both the STB and rail companies to resolve ongoing rail service disruptions before the fall harvest. The senator recently held meetings with STB Member Patrick Fuchs and BNSF CEO Katie Farmer to review the public accountability requirements the STB has placed on Class I railroads and discuss progress toward restoring reliable rail service in North Dakota.

Bringing Down Inflation

Hoeven has repeatedly pressed the Biden administration to reverse course on its harmful environmental agenda and empower the nation to realize the full potential of its abundant energy resources. Doing so would help bring down prices across the economy, including for critical agriculture inputs like fertilizer and fuel.

To this end, Hoeven is working to advance legislation like his American Energy Independence from Russia Act, which would take immediate action to increase U.S. energy production. Among other priorities, this bill would enable the development of taxpayer-owned energy resources by prohibiting any presidential moratoria on new energy leases and requiring the administration to hold a minimum of 4 oil and natural gas lease sales in each state with land available for leasing in fiscal year 2022.

Providing Disaster Assistance

In September, Hoeven secured $10 billion in agriculture disaster aid, including $750 million for livestock producers. The senator then repeatedly pressed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to get the assistance to producers as soon as possible, with the aid currently being distributed under the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) and the Emergency Livestock Relief Program (ELRP). 

USDA began sending out ELRP phase-one assistance in February, with payments set at 75% of producers’ 2021 Livestock Forage Program (LFP) payment. Phase two will begin later this year.

USDA also began sending pre-filled applications for ERP phase one to producers in May, with payments having started earlier this month. USDA estimates North Dakota producers will receive approximately $915 million from phase one of ERP. Details will be released later this summer for ERP phase two, which will compensate producers not paid under the first phase for their eligible losses.