Hoeven Introduces Legislation to Strengthen ARC Program, Make Conservation Title Farmer Friendly

Senator Working to Include Provisions in Farm Bill

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that he has introduced legislation to strengthen the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program and to ensure that wetlands conservation provisions work for producers.

“These bills are important as part of building an overall Farm Bill,” said Hoeven. “The first strengthens the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, which is a very important part of the counter-cyclical safety net for our farmers. We worked to create and fund a pilot program to ensure that USDA uses the most accurate data to calculate ARC payments. We’ve also introduced legislation to make the conservation title more farmer-friendly." 

Strengthening the ARC Program 

Hoeven’s ARC legislation, S.2833, strengthens the ARC program by authorizing the pilot program the senator created as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee. The pilot program, which Hoeven funded in Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018, gives state Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices a role in ensuring accurate yield determinations under the ARC program. If the FSA office finds a disparity between yield calculations in comparable counties using National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) data, the office may fix any inaccuracy by using an alternate calculation method, such as Risk Management Administration (RMA) data or NASS district data.

The USDA started implementing the pilot program on January 11, 2018 in 14 counties across seven states, including Divide and Sheridan counties in North Dakota. Hoeven introduced S.2833 and is working to include the provision in the next farm bill as a long-term solution to the ARC payment calculation issue.

Improving Wetlands Provisions in the Conservation Title

Hoeven also introduced S.2834, legislation to ensure that the wetlands regulations in the conservation title are more farmer friendly. The legislation requires the USDA, within 180 days of passage of the farm bill, to define minimal effect exemptions on a regional basis. These exemptions must be applied before any wetland determination is made or a violation alleged against a producer.  

Additionally, the legislation increases the authorization for the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program to $35 million over 5 years. Mitigation banking is the preservation, enhancement, restoration or creation of a wetland, stream, or habitat conservation area to offset or compensate for expected impacts to similar nearby ecosystems. 

This legislation is also included in the House of Representative’s version of the farm bill.

Hoeven is working to include both pieces of legislation in the Senate’s farm bill. The senator hosted USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in North Dakota to hear directly from the state’s producers about their priorities for the farm bill and has also gathered input from at roundtable meetings around the state. Hoeven continues working to provide the nation’s farmers and ranchers with the strongest farm bill possible.