Hoeven Hosts USDA Secretary Perdue in Fargo, Outlines Farm Bill Priorities with Local Producers, Ag Industry

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in Fargo at a series of meetings that allowed the secretary to hear firsthand about local producers’ priorities for the upcoming farm bill. The day’s events included discussions with farmers and ranchers, agriculture researchers, commodity groups and other representatives from the agriculture industry. The visit helped highlight how Secretary Perdue and Hoeven, who serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, can best work together to strengthen the risk management tools available to agriculture producers and deliver the tools farmers and ranchers need to succeed.

“Agriculture is not only a cornerstone of our state’s economy, it’s vital to our nation’s quality of life,” said Hoeven. “The hard work of our nation’s farmers and ranchers helps ensure Americans continue to have access to low-cost, high-quality food. Our agriculture producers have faced some real challenges in recent years, from low commodity prices to natural disasters, which drive home the importance of passing the best farm bill possible. Because of this, Secretary Perdue’s visit is very valuable and timely. We appreciate him taking the time to meet directly with our farmers and ranchers and learn what they need from the upcoming farm bill.”

“The best way to find out how federal policies are working in the real world is to get out and talk to people who actually put their hands in the dirt to grow the food that feeds this nation. With farm income down and projected to fall lower, this next Farm Bill takes on even more significance than normal. We’ve been traveling the country hearing from farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers about which programs work and which don't, and we will take to heart everything we heard from North Dakotans. Congress will write the Farm Bill, but USDA will provide whatever counsel they request or require,” said Secretary Perdue.

Today’s visit fulfills a commitment Hoeven secured from Secretary Perdue to come to North Dakota to hear from the state’s agriculture industry. It comes as part of Hoeven’s continued efforts to gather input from farmers, ranchers and other rural stakeholder on the upcoming farm bill and ensure USDA’s programs work for North Dakota’s agriculture industry and rural communities. The senator’s priorities for the farm bill include:

  • Strong Crop Insurance – The senator is working to strengthen and prevent cuts to the crop insurance program, which is the primary risk management tool for many producers. 
  • Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) – Hoeven secured funding for a pilot program in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill, and funding in the Senate’s FY 2018 Appropriations bill, to improve the fairness of ARC payment calculations, while exploring long-term solutions to the problem for the next farm bill. USDA implemented Hoeven’s pilot program in January for 14 counties in seven states, including Divide and Sheridan counties in North Dakota.
  • Sugar Program – The senator said he will work to extend the sugar program in a bipartisan manner, ensuring that American producers have a level playing field in the world sugar market.
  • Agriculture Research – Hoeven will work to include strong support for agricultural research, like the work done at North Dakota State University and the North Dakota Extension Service, to enhance crop genetics and production.
  • Rural Development – The senator is advancing efforts to invest in rural infrastructure, including water, electric and broadband services, which will help rural communities and residents compete in the global economy.
  • Drought Support – Hoeven continues working to secure all possible support for farmers and ranchers to help them recover from the drought. The senator is also working to improve the livestock assistance programs in the next farm bill and ensure they work for ranchers when needed most. Hoeven’s work as chairman recently resulted in additional drought assistance being included in the supplemental funding legislation for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, including funding under the:
    • Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish program (ELAP) – Chairman Hoeven made additional ELAP funding available to assist producers for activities, including transporting hay and livestock, during the drought.
    • Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) – The legislation enables producers who were forced to sell their livestock due to drought or other weather-related conditions to receive LIP payment for their losses and removes payment limitations currently capped at $125,000. The provision is retroactive to January 1, 2017.