Hoeven to North Dakota Farm Bureau: We're Working to Rescind, Defund WOTUS, Restore $3 Billion Crop Insurance Cuts in Omnibus

FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today spoke at the North Dakota Farm Bureau’s annual meeting and highlighted recent efforts to stop the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulation, which would expand the reach of federal regulation and create uncertainty for farmers, ranchers and other job creators. The senator also told the group that he is working to restore $3 billion in reductions to the Crop Insurance program made in the recent budget agreement.

“The Farm Bureau is leading the way on behalf of our farmers and ranchers across the nation,” said Hoeven. “One issue they have really led on is stopping the Waters of the U.S. rule. We’re making real progress there. We’ve got it held up by litigation, but I’ve also been working to stop it legislatively. I’ve included legislation in the appropriations bill to defund the regulation and I really think that we’re going to get that done by the end of the year.”

Hoeven is leading the effort to eliminate the Waters of the U.S. regulation through the appropriations process. The senator worked to include a provision in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill in June that prohibits the EPA from implementing the regulation.

Earlier this month, the Senate passed a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to repeal the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rule. The measure, which Hoeven cosponsored, passed by a vote of 53 to 44. The Congressional Review Act authorizes Congress by majority vote to repeal actions by a federal agency after a rule is formally published and submitted to Congress. The House is expected to pass the resolution, however the President has threatened to veto it. 

Hoeven said that while he is working to overcome a presidential veto, he is also working to defund the regulation in the Interior and EPA Appropriations bill.

In August, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson issued an injunction blocking the EPA from implementing the WOTUS rule in North Dakota and 12 additional states that had challenged the rule. A subsequent ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court in October blocked the rule from being implemented nationwide while the courts determine its legality.

Last year, Hoeven worked to defund the Interpretive Rule, which enabled farmers and ranchers to operate this year, as they have in the past, under the Clean Water Act’s general farm exemption from having to get a permit before practicing normal agricultural activities like plowing, seeding and minor drainage.

Crop Insurance

Hoeven also underscored his opposition to a provision in the new budget agreement that would reduce crop insurance by $3 billion, especially after the crop insurance program has already been reduced by $12 billion since 2008. As a member of the agriculture committee and conferee on the bicameral panel that worked hard to negotiate the final version of the farm bill, Hoeven said it is unfair to the nation’s farmers and ranchers to go back and require an additional $3 billion reduction after $23 billion in savings was found in the 2014 farm bill.

“We are currently working on the Agriculture and Agriculture Appropriations Committees to ensure that funding for the Crop Insurance program is restored in the year-end omnibus Congress is preparing,” said Hoeven.