Hoeven Working to Support Farmers and Ranchers, Create Strong Business Climate, Provide Veterans with Care Close to Home
Senator Briefs Langdon Community Leaders on Efforts in Washington, Reviews Operations at Cando Pasta
LANGDON, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today hosted a roundtable discussion with Langdon community leaders to outline his efforts in Washington to help North Dakota farmers and ranchers; create a strong business climate for small business; and care for North Dakota veterans. Following the roundtable, Hoeven joined leaders at Cando Pasta to review operations at the North Dakota pasta plant.
“We’re working to support our producers and small businesses by creating a better businesses climate and providing regulatory certainty,” said Hoeven. “These job creators are the backbone of our economy, which is why we continue working to ensure they have the tools and support they need to succeed.”
SUPPORTING NORTH DAKOTA PRODUCERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES
Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act
Hoeven introduced the Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act with cosponsor Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The legislation will:
• Increase the maximum loan amount that an individual farmer or rancher is able to receive under the Farm Service Agency’s Direct and Guaranteed Loan Programs for Farm Operating Loans and Farm Ownership Loans.
• Help producers weather the downturn. For example, it increases the FSA loan guarantee amount, which will now cover up to $2.5 million, up from $1.39 million. The bill will also double the amount on Direct Operating and Direct Farm Ownership Loans from $300,000 to $600,000.
Ensuring Affordable Fertilizer/Preventing OSHA’s Anhydrous Rule
Hoeven worked to stop the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) anhydrous rule, which threatened to prevent rural retailers from selling anhydrous ammonia, a nitrogen fertilizer that is critically important to producers. Hoeven has been working to prevent the new regulation, which the D.C. District Court of Appeals stopped late last month, including:
• In December 2015, the senator introduced and worked to pass legislation preventing OSHA from implementing the regulation in 2016, which would have forced agricultural retail facilities to comply with the same chemical storage requirements as a wholesale facility.
• Earlier this year, Hoeven included language in the Senate Fiscal Year 2017 Labor-HHS appropriations bill prohibiting OSHA from implementing it in 2017. The legislation passed out of committee by a large bipartisan majority vote.
• The senator sent a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez earlier this year calling on him to work through the formal rule-making process, engage with local stakeholders and respond to the Freedom of Information Act Requests submitted by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. Last month, Hoeven also arranged a meeting between senior Department of Labor officials and North Dakota retailers.
Stopping the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Regulations
• The Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 funding bill included language to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from reinstating the Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule, which preserves the general ag exemption from the Clean Water Act for farmers and ranchers.
• As an Appropriations Committee member, Hoeven included language in the FY 2017 appropriations bill for the Dept. of Interior and EPA preventing the implementation of EPA’s WOTUS rule next year as well.
• The senator has also called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to comply with the nationwide stay on implementing the WOTUS rule by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
CARING FOR NORTH DAKOTA VETERANS
Veterans Care Coordination Initiative
Hoeven has been working to provide veterans in North Dakota with care close to home. Earlier this week, the senator announced the Veterans Care Coordination Initiative, a pilot program, enabling veterans seeking care through the Veterans Choice Program to coordinate all their health care needs through the Fargo VA Medical Center, rather than a third party administrator.
• The new Veterans Care Coordination initiative will help veterans in North Dakota and western Minnesota access care in the community when VA facilities are not available or timely.
• In addition, providers can work with the Fargo VA to improve provider reimbursements and reduce denials of veterans’ claims.
• The Veterans Care Coordination initiative grew out of a series of veterans’ listening sessions and roundtables Hoeven held around the state. Beginning nearly a year ago in Williston, he heard about a range of problems veterans were experiencing when trying to schedule and access health care through Health Net. Problems included dropped appointments, long wait times and other obstacles to getting care. He met with veterans in large cities like Fargo, Bismarck and Dickinson, as well as small communities like Bottineau and Steele, all encountering similar problems. The senator then secured a commitment from VA Secretary Bob McDonald to launch the pilot program to address the issue.
Record Funding for Veterans
As a member of the Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to provide strong funding to provide the nation’s veterans with the services and care they earned serving our nation. Congress recently passed the Fiscal Year 2017 Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill, which provides record funding for the nation’s veterans.
WORKING TO ADDRESS THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC
• Hoeven authored the Illegal Synthetic Drug Safety Act of 2016, which Hoeven recently introduced with Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) closes a loophole in current law that enables companies to circumvent the law and sell synthetic variations of drugs, like the powerful drug fentanyl, by labeling the products as “not for human consumption.”
• Laboratories, many of which are found in China, are altering the molecular structure of fentanyl and other controlled drugs to make substances that are technically different, but with the same dangerous risks as the original drug. These chemically altered substances are known as analogues.
• For example, fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is medically used as a pain killer. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimates that it is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. While fentanyl is a controlled substance, laboratories are altering its molecular structure to make variations of the drug that are technically different, but just as dangerous. Companies are then able to sell the variations, or analogues, under a “not for human consumption” label.
• The Illegal Synthetic Drug Safety Act of 2016 closes that loophole.
• The measure has been endorsed by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association,
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