Hoeven to Vilsack: Crop Insurance Needs to Be Number One Priority in New Farm Bill

University Ag Research, Blender Pump Infrastructure Also Important

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today told U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that a strong crop insurance program needs to be the number one priority in developing the new Farm Bill. He also urged the secretary to support agricultural research programs and a market-based approach to promote biofuel. Secretary Vilsack testified this morning in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, of which Hoeven is a member, to outline agriculture-related funding initiatives included in President Obama’s budget proposal. 

Crop Insurance. Hoeven is working with other senators to craft a cost-effective farm safety net, the base of which is a strong crop insurance program. “Everybody throughout our state, all the producers, are telling us that crop insurance is absolutely their number one priority,” Hoeven said. 

University Research. Agricultural research increases producer and rancher productivity, and it creates jobs for rural America. Hoeven pointed to North Dakota State University’s new Experiment Station Research Greenhouse Complex, a state-of-the-art agricultural research facility that Hoeven made an agriculture priority as governor. The facility is widely regarded as one of the premier agriculture research facilities in the nation, carrying out advanced research in plant breeding, genetics, horticulture, entomology, plant pathology, plant nutrition, and associated disciplines. 

Secretary Vilsack acknowledged the importance of agricultural research, citing historical data that suggests that productivity in agriculture is directly related to the investment in research.

Biofuels. Hoeven also asked for Secretary Vilsack’s help in advancing biofuel use across the country using market-based solutions, specifically by increasing the number of blender pumps available at gas stations as the number of flex-fuel vehicles grows. According to the USDA, there are nearly 10 million flex-fuel vehicles on U.S. roads, yet an estimated 90 percent of these vehicles cannot access higher ethanol blends. “We have got to get blender pumps out there,” Hoeven said. 

As governor, Hoeven supported a new incentive program that increased the number of biofuel blender pumps across North Dakota, doubling renewable fuel use in the first year. Today, North Dakota has more blender pumps than any other state in the nation. Secretary Vilsack committed to work with Senator Hoeven to ensure USDA energy programs have the flexibility required to fund blender pumps.