Hoeven Urges Strong Support for Ag in Fiscal Year 2019

As Chairman of Agriculture Appropriations, Senator Holds Hearing with USDA Secretary Perdue

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, this week convened a hearing with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue on the USDA’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget request. Hoeven pressed the Secretary to maintain strong agriculture funding and support priorities, including maintaining strong crop insurance and risk management tools, supporting agriculture trade and building rural communities.

“Production agriculture is the cornerstone of local rural economies, which is why we need a strong farm safety net to help farmers and ranchers overcome challenges from low commodity prices to unforeseen weather conditions. Additionally, agriculture remains one of America’s net export industries due to open trade and we must continue to explore foreign market access for our producers,” said Hoeven. “While I support many proposals included in the Administration’s budget, I believe we should be investing in the future of agriculture and rural America. As Chairman, I look forward to working with USDA and the committee to make the most effective and efficient decisions on behalf of our nation’s producers and American taxpayers.”

Hoeven outlined priorities, including:

  • Countercyclical Safety Net – Hoeven worked to include funding in FY17 and FY18 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 use the pilot program 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. 
    • Prevented Plant – Hoeven encouraged Perdue to support the prevented planting crop insurance program administered by the Risk Management Agency (RMA), which is an effective risk management tool for farmers in North Dakota.  
    • Disaster Supplemental – With unprecedented natural disasters in 2017, the senator thanked USDA for implementing provisions he included in supplemental disaster legislation and encouraged the Secretary to continue with timely action.
    • Agriculture Trade – Hoeven pressed the Secretary to help keep markets open for farmers and ranchers and prevent retaliatory tariffs. 
    • Staffing and FSA Offices – The senator highlighted concerns about staffing vacancies at USDA and the need to ensure the necessary workforce and keep FSA offices open. 
    • Broadband Infrastructure – Hoeven encouraged Perdue to use grant and loan funding secured in FY18 to build broadband infrastructure and target areas that lack service.
    • School Nutrition – 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. Hoeven thanked Perdue for providing greater flexibility for schools to meet USDA requirements for school meal programs and encouraged USDA to provide permanent certainty.