Hoeven to Perdue: Maintain Strong Ag Funding, Farm Safety Net

Senator Chairs Hearing with Secretary on FY18 Ag Budget, Presses for Strict Enforcement of Mexican Sugar Agreement

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, today convened a hearing with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to outline priorities for the Fiscal Year 2018 USDA budget, including strong crop insurance and countercyclical safety net options, agriculture research, trade and support for rural development programs. Hoeven also pressed Perdue to strictly enforce the sugar agreement and ensure Mexico is held accountable for dumping sugar into U.S. markets. 

“We should be investing in the future of agriculture and rural America, especially at a time when our producers face low commodity prices and unforeseen weather, like the drought conditions facing ranchers in North Dakota,” said Hoeven. “As Chairman, I will work to fund our priorities, especially maintaining strong crop insurance options and updating our countercyclical safety net to ensure it works for producers. We also need to ensure that the sugar agreement with Mexico is strictly enforced so that our domestic producers aren’t harmed.”

Hoeven pressed Perdue to support priorities, including:

  • Countercyclical Safety Net – Hoeven worked to include funding in FY17 for an Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) pilot program to allow for an alternate calculation method for crop payments when NASS data is insufficient. Hoeven urged Perdue to get the pilot program running as a model for inclusion in the next farm bill and to ensure that the ARC and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs work for farmers and ranchers.
  • Crop Insurance – The senator pressed Perdue to support strong crop insurance and prevent cuts to the program, which is the primary risk management tool for many producers. Hoeven said, “Farmers and ranchers cannot always depend on the markets or weather, but they should be able to depend on a strong farm bill safety net to help them make it through difficult times.” 
  • Mexican Sugar Agreement – Hoeven urged Perdue to work with U.S. sugar producers to address concerns regarding the recently announced sugar agreement with Mexico and ensure that U.S. producers aren’t harmed by the agreement. The senator pressed the secretary to strictly enforce the agreement and prevent Mexico from dumping sugar into U.S. markets. Hoeven has also repeatedly pressed Commerce Secretary Ross on the issue.  
  • Farm Bill – As work begins on the next Farm Bill, Hoeven encouraged Perdue to build a North, South, Midwest coalition to pass a new farm bill that includes good risk management tools, including strong crop insurance and countercyclical safety net options.
  • Rural Development – Hoeven secured a commitment from Perdue to implement an effective rural electric loan pilot project to allow rural electric cooperatives participating in the direct loan program to refinance their existing loans. Additionally, the senator highlighted the importance of the Rural Utilities Service in lending to small broadband providers and keeping consumer rates more affordable. 
  • School Nutrition – Hoeven thanked Perdue for providing greater flexibility for schools to meet USDA requirements for school meal programs. The senator has been working to provide flexibility for the whole grain and sodium requirements to ensure that schools can serve healthy and nutritious meals, while also meeting their budgets.