Hoeven Presses for Senate Passage of Strong Farm Bill

Senator Highlights Benefits of Good Farm Policy for Every American, Need for Strong Crop Insurance and Improved Risk Management Tools

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, outlined the importance of passing a strong farm bill on the Senate floor yesterday. The senator is working to ensure that the Senate farm bill provides certainty for the nation’s producers by prioritizing strong crop insuranceimproved risk management toolsenhanced support for agriculture research and greater access to capital. The Senate Agriculture Committee approved the farm bill earlier this month and it is now being considered on the Senate floor.  

“Times are tough in rural America. Commodity prices are low and our farmers and ranchers face numerous challenges. Moving this farm bill through the Senate will help reduce uncertainty for our ag producers and provide them with the tools they need to sustain their operations,” said Hoeven. “We have the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, which is made possible by the hard work of our farmers and ranchers. Passing this bill won’t just benefit producers, good farm policy benefits every American, every single day.”

Hoeven outlined priorities and provisions he worked to secure in the Senate’s farm bill including:

  • Strong Crop Insurance – Maintains strong crop insurance, which is the primary risk management tool for many producers. 
  • Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) Program: Uses Hoeven’s pilot program to improve flexibility and funding for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) Program, prioritizing Risk Management Agency (RMA) data over National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data to determine yields.
  • Access to Capital for Farmers and Ranchers: Increases the FSA Guaranteed Operation and Ownership Loans from $1.39 million to $1.75 million, and Direct Operating Loans from $300,000 to $400,000 and Ownership Loans from $300,000 to $600,000.
  • Agriculture Research – Provides 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.
  • Sugar Policy – Extends the sugar policy in a bipartisan manner, ensuring that American producers have a level playing field in the world sugar market.
  • Water Bank Program – Increases the authorization for the Hoeven Water Bank Program to $5 million. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has worked to fund the program, which provides compensation for farmers and landowners for flooded land through 10-year, voluntary conservation agreements.
  • Increasing Markets for Agriculture – Helps to create, expand and maintain foreign markets for U.S. agriculture products. The bill consolidates the Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development (FMD), Emerging Market Program (EMP) and the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) under one export umbrella to provide producers with continued access to export programs.
  • Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Bank – Authorizes a new Animal Disease and Disaster Response Program and Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine bank, which Hoeven has advocated for, to help address risks to animal health, livestock export markets and industry economic stability.
  • Addressing Substance Abuse in Rural Communities – Includes legislation Hoeven is sponsoring with Senator Joe Donnelly to help rural communities combat the opioid abuse epidemic. The legislation directs the USDA Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grants Program to give priority to applicants in rural communities that would use the grants for substance abuse education, treatment and prevention efforts.
  • CROPS for Indian Country Act – Includes provisions from Hoeven’s Cultivating Resources, Opportunities, Prosperity and Sustainability (CROPS) for Indian Country Act, bipartisan legislation that would strengthen tribal self-governance for USDA programs and promote agribusiness opportunities for Native American farmers, ranchers and communities. During the Senate Agriculture Committee’s markup, Hoeven also secured provisions to:
    • Promote Trade for Tribal Producers: Promotes greater participation of tribal producers on international trade missions.
    • Provide Tribal College and Universities (TCUs) Access to USDA Grants: Allows TCUs to access the Children, Youth and Families at Risk and Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Programs. Currently, all land grant institutions, except TCUs, have access to these competitive grant programs.
  • Improving Wetlands Provisions in the Conservation Title: Hoeven included three amendments to make wetlands regulations in the conservation title more farmer friendly.
    • Requires the USDA, within 180 days of passage of the farm bill, to define minimal effect exemptions on a regional basis, and contains authorization for the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program.   
    • Directs the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to report the number of wetland acres in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa that have been delineated and are less than 1 acre.
    • Improves the quality of the wetland appeals process by requiring NRCS to conduct a site visit with the participant after an appeal has been filed.
  • Prairie Dog Management: Requires the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a report on prairie dogs and act upon their finding within one year of the report’s completion to help address prairie dog management on Forest Service lands.

The senator worked to craft a strong farm bill for North Dakota producers. He hosted USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in North Dakota to hear directly from the state’s producers about their priorities for the farm bill and gathered input from the state’s farmers and ranchers at roundtable meetings.