Hoeven Working to Ensure Farm Bill Programs Address Challenges of Low Commodity Prices

Senator Cites LaMoure, Logan Counties in ARC Payments

WASHINGTON – During a hearing of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee last week, Senate John Hoeven drove home the importance of ensuring that farm bill programs are implemented in a way that actually works for farmers and ranchers, especially during times of low commodity prices. Hoeven was joined at the hearing by agriculture industry leaders, including representatives from the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, who he called on to help identify areas Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) can address to make sure producers have adequate tools to manage their risk and losses in difficult times.

“Congress wrote the farm bill to help farmers get through tough times, just like we are seeing now,” Hoeven said. “Whether it is low prices or natural disasters, our agricultural producers need to know that the programs they sign up for will work when they need them. They shouldn’t be left without support because of technicalities or rigid bureaucracy. We continue working with USDA to build flexibility into these programs, so we can meet the needs of our farmers and ranchers.”

Hoeven highlighted the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program as one example where farmers need solutions right now. Due to USDA’s current method of calculating payments under the ARC program, no payments were made to corn farmers in LaMoure and Logan counties and inadequate payments were made to farmers in Ransom and Steele counties for the 2014 crop year.

Hoeven is pressing the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to allow flexibility in the ARC program to ensure program participants receive payments based on similarly productive counties. To this end, the senator called on FSA Administrator Val Dolcini last November to use yield estimates submitted to them by the North Dakota state FSA office to determine county ARC payments in counties for which there were no National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data. Further, Hoeven is working as a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee to ensure this flexibility is in place for the ARC program in future years.