Hoeven, Klobuchar Announce Farm Bill Conference Committee to Hold First Meeting Next Week
Senators Host Roundtable to Discuss Farm Bill Priorities Ahead of Meeting
FARGO, N.D. – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today announced that the House-Senate farm bill conference committee will convene next week. The senators hosted a farm bill roundtable at North Dakota State University’s Agriculture Experiment Station Research Greenhouse Complex to gather input from agriculture association leaders and discuss the priorities the senators will work on as members of the joint Senate-House committee
The new legislation in both the Senate and the House versions focuses on enhanced crop insurance. The measure includes a new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), continues the sugar program and provides new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) to help producers through years of repetitive losses. The Senate bill saves $24 billion to help reduce the deficit and debt.
- Enhanced Crop Insurance: The farm bill includes a strong safety net for producers. Hoeven underscored that the safety net in the farm bill is focused on enhanced crop insurance. The legislation enhances crop insurance with the inclusion of the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). The SCO enables producers to purchase a supplemental policy beyond their individual farm-based policy.
- Revenue Loss Protection: In addition, the bill features a new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program that covers assistance for multiple-year losses. The program works with crop insurance by covering between 78 and 88 percent of a producer’s historic five-year average revenues based on price and yield.
- Renewing the Sugar Program: Hoeven and Klobuchar worked hard to extend the sugar program in the farm bill, ensuring that American producers have a level playing field in the world sugar market.
- Renewing the Livestock Indemnity (LIP) Program: Would renew the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), and the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) for the life of the Farm Bill as well as provide coverage for the current fiscal year, since the programs expired in 2011.
- Funding for Rural Water Management: The farm bill includes rural water management and flood protection. It includes a Klobuchar-Hoeven-Heitkamp amendment to support flood protection in the Red River Valley, as well as other conservation, agricultural research, rural development and energy programs. The program consolidates four existing programs into one that will support projects that improve soil quality, water quality or wildlife habitat in a specific area or region, including the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative and the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program. Projects will be implemented through partnership agreements and directly through contracts with eligible producers. Partnership agreements are not to exceed five years.
- State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement Program (SAFE): The senators touted a part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) called SAFE, which allows producers to create habitat that is beneficial for wildlife. This could be a very good program for both farmers and sportsmen, because it will allow farmers to optimize CRP acreage to encourage wildlife populations. States like North Dakota have lost CRP acreage, which has a reduced habitat for a number of sports species like deer and pheasants. Combined with North Dakota’s PLOTS and Coverlocks programs, which make private lands available to hunters, the SAFE program can create more habitats to increase wildlife populations and hunting opportunities.
“Our number one priority is to pass a strong, long-term farm bill that will provide producers with the market-based safety net they need to deal with volatile markets and weather, while ensuring that the American people continue to enjoy the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world,” Hoeven said. “A strong farm bill not only benefits every American – consumers and producers, the 16 million Americans who work in the ag sector and the American economy – but it also makes our nation more secure. We don’t have to rely on other countries for our food supply, and that makes all of us safer.”
“Agriculture is feeding and fueling the world and our farmers and ranchers deserve a strong, long-term Farm Bill that gives them the support they need,” said Klobuchar. “I worked hard with my colleagues on the Senate Agriculture Committee to craft legislation that strengthens crop insurance, supports the sugar program and expands conservation efforts while reducing the deficit by $24 billion, and as a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee I’m committed to getting this bill passed.”
Hoeven and Klobuchar are members of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and Hoeven serves on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. The senators worked successfully to pass farm bills in both the current session of Congress and the last.
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