Hoeven Holds Farm Bill Implementation Roundtable

Senator Also Outlines USDA Funding He Secured as Chairman of Ag Approps

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today convened a roundtable with North Dakota farm leaders to discuss implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill. 

“We worked hard to pass a strong, bipartisan farm bill to support our farmers and ranchers and provide them with the necessary tools to overcome the challenges facing farm country,” said Hoeven. “Now, we’re working to ensure the new farm bill is implemented in a way that is as farmer-friendly as possible.”

Hoeven, who served on the farm bill conference committee, outlined key provisions in the new bill to support North Dakota and the nation’s producers, including: 

  • Strong Crop Insurance
  • Improved Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) 
    • Farmers will be allowed to make a new election between ARC and PLC in 2019, again in 2021 and annually in the following years.
    • Reduces ARC disparities from county to county
    • Includes an increase to the plug yield in ARC and uses trend adjusted yields under ARC. 
    • PLC program reference prices to “ratchet up” if commodity prices rise significantly.
    • Permits nationwide yield updates. 
  • Sugar Policy: The farm bill maintains strong sugar policy.
  • Increase for Marketing Assistance Loans (MAL) Rates 
  • Hoeven’s Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act 
    • Increases Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Guaranteed Operation and Ownership Loans from $1.399 million to $1.75 million.
    • Increases Direct Operating Loans from $300,000 to $400,000. 
    • Increases Direct Ownership Loans from $300,000 to $600,000.
  • Ag Research 
    • Maintains strong land-grant formula research funding and includes increased funding for other USDA research programs included in the Senate version. 
  • Conservation Title
    • Maintains Private Property Rights: At Hoeven’s urging, a proposal to authorize permanent easements was not included in defense of private property rights of farmers and ranchers.  
    • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Site Visit: Improves the quality of the wetland appeals process by requiring NRCS to conduct a site visit with the participant after an appeal has been filed.
    • Report on Small Wetlands: Directs the NRCS to report the number of wetland acres in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa that have been delineated and are less than one acre. 
    • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): Maintains EQIP and the full suite of other conservation programs. 
    • Maintains the Water Bank Program.
  • Supports Agricultural Trade: 
    • Consolidates and provides strong funding for the Market Access, Foreign Market Development, and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops and the Emerging Market Programs. 

Additionally, as chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Hoeven outlined important funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, to support agriculture research like that being conducted at the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Agriculture Greenhouse. 

The legislation provides $2.775 billion to support agricultural research conducted by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), including:

  • $415 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).
  • Maintains formula research funding for land-grant universities
  • Provides a $1 million increase in ARS funding for each of the following: Pulse Crop Health Initiative; Chronic Wasting Disease; Sugarbeets; Alfalfa Research; Small Grain Genomics. Maintains funding for UAS Precision Agriculture at $3 million and $8.7 million for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative. 

Hoeven worked to ensure the legislation provides strong funding to support producers, including:

  • Funding for Hoeven’s ARC pilot program to allow for an alternate calculation method for crop payments when National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data is insufficient.
  • $4 million for the Hoeven Water Bank initiative, which provides compensation for farmers and landowners for flooded land through 10-year, voluntary conservation agreements.
  • Fully funds the expected demand for farm direct and guaranteed and emergency loans.
  • Prohibits the closure of Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices and provides funding to hire additional FSA county employees and loan officers
  • Acre-for-Acre Wetlands Mitigation language encouraging the USDA Secretary to use mitigation of a natural wetland and equivalent wetlands functions with the conversion rate of 1-to-1 acreage.