Hoeven Outlines ND Priorities to Secretary Vilsack
Senator Urges Quick Distribution of CFAP, QLA, WHIP+, Access to USDA Service Centers, Implementation of RISE Program
WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade, this week spoke with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and pressed the Secretary to:
- Quickly distribute remaining Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments to farmers and ranchers.
- Fully fund the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program and expedite completion of the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+).
- Ensure producers have access to USDA Service Centers.
- Finish implementing the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Program.
- Don’t allow an increase in sugar imports.
“We spoke with Secretary Vilsack to outline important priorities for farmers and ranchers in North Dakota,” said Hoeven. “USDA needs to quickly distribute the remaining CFAP payments as Congress intended. We also pressed the Secretary to complete WHIP+ and fully fund the quality loss program to help producers with losses due to disaster, and as USDA staff at service centers are invaluable to producers navigating these relief programs, we also relayed producer concerns about the decision to reduce staff and limit access to these USDA centers. Spring planting is fast approaching and our producers need certainty surrounding these programs to plan for the growing season.”
COVID-19 Relief and CFAP
Hoeven urged the Secretary to quickly distribute the assistance included in the year-end spending package, including payments for row crops and cattle. The Secretary indicated an announcement would follow in the coming weeks.
As the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee last year, Senator Hoeven secured $23.5 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and $13 billion in the year-end spending package, for agriculture assistance.
WHIP+ and Quality Loss Adjustment Program
The Senator pressed the Secretary to fully fund the Quality Loss Adjustment Program and expedite completion of WHIP+. The Secretary understood and acknowledged the importance of both programs to North Dakota producers. Hoeven secured:
- $1.5 billion for QLA and WHIP+ in fiscal year (FY)21 Agriculture Appropriations.
- $1.5 billion for WHIP+, along with authority to cover quality losses in FY20 Agriculture Appropriations.
USDA Service Centers
Hoeven relayed concerns about new one-size-fits-all directives limiting staffing and visitors at USDA service centers, and asked the Secretary to ensure producers have access to programs, while maintaining the safety of USDA employees.
Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Program
Additionally, the Senator underscored the importance of the RISE Program to supporting innovative precision agriculture projects, like Grand Farm, and pressed the Secretary to finish implementing the program. Hoeven secured $5 million for RISE in both FY20 and FY21 Agriculture Appropriations.
Prevent Increase in Sugar Imports
The Senator expressed concerns about recent requests for an increase of the sugar tariff rate quota (TRQ), and urged the Secretary not to allow an increase in sugar imports.
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