Hoeven Holds Meeting with USFS Deputy Chief to Address Ag & Energy Issues Impacting Western ND

Senator Working to Improve Farm Bill Livestock Programs, Promote Voluntary Conservation Projects, Address Prairie Dogs & Orphaned Oil Wells

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today held a roundtable with U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Deputy Chief Chris French and local livestock and energy producers to discuss priorities for the upcoming farm bill and efforts to ensure USFS is a good neighbor. To this end, Hoeven, who serves as ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and as a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, stressed the importance of:

  • Providing regulatory relief and pushing back on overreaching federal rules that burden agriculture and energy operations, resulting in higher prices for consumers.
  • Better managing challenges like prairie dogs and grasshoppers on USFS lands, which affect nearby grazing operations.
    • Currently, a setback of 0.25 miles is required between the national grasslands and private and state lands. Hoeven has worked to expand this setback, while urging USFS to control prairie dog populations and protect against damage to livestock producers.
  • Enabling local grazers and the state to reclaim orphaned oil wells for beneficial uses, including as freshwater wells for livestock, fire suppression and wildlife.
    • The senator is calling on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees the program, to work with the USFS and the state of North Dakota to help the projects move forward.
  • Promoting voluntary conservation partnerships across public and private lands.
    • Hoeven is sponsoring legislation to reauthorize the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership program, which has provided more than $3.2 million for partnerships with private landowners to help improve and restore grasslands in North Dakota.
  • Enhancing livestock disaster programs, including legislation he is sponsoring to better meet the needs of ranchers impacted by natural disasters.
  • Improving the risk management tools available to livestock producers, such as Livestock Risk Protection (LRP), to expand adoption by ranchers.

“The broad presence of federal land in western North Dakota, including the national grasslands, poses a real challenge for local landowners, ranchers and energy producers,” said Hoeven. “It’s essential that officials consult with those affected by federal policies to help ensure agencies like the Forest Service do not burden our producers and undermine their livelihoods. That’s exactly what we’re working to accomplish with today’s meeting, which provides us the opportunity to gather feedback, particularly on priorities for the upcoming farm bill, to better meet the needs of livestock producers and help ensure the USFS is a good neighbor.”

Improving Livestock Disaster Programs

Specifically, the Livestock Disaster Relief Act, which Hoeven is working to include in the upcoming farm bill, would make permanent reforms to better align coverage between the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock Program (ELAP). The bill also increases producer assistance under LFP to more accurately compensate them for feed costs and specifies transportation costs for feed, water and livestock as covered losses under ELAP.

Writing the Next Farm Bill

Today’s meeting comes as part of Hoeven’s continued efforts to provide North Dakota farmers and ranchers with the opportunity to give direct feedback as work continues on the next farm bill. In addition to enhancing livestock programs, the senator is working to:

  • Maintain and strengthen crop insurance, the primary risk management tool for many producers.
  • Update and improve the farm safety net, including the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs.
  • Improve transparency and competition in cattle markets.
  • Make sure programs are voluntary and farmer-friendly, instead of one-size-fits-all, to reduce the regulatory burden on producers.