Senator John Hoeven today hosted a farm bill roundtable in at the Nodak Electric Cooperative building in Grand Forks to discuss the Senate farm bill and gather input from agriculture association leaders. The senator said the bipartisan, five-year legislation that he and other members of the Agriculture Committee crafted had strong support in the U.S. Senate but work remains as the bill moves through the House and conference committee.
The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012
The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act provides more than $23 billion in deficit reduction, streamlines farm programs and ensures that farmers and ranchers continue to have strong support through enhanced crop insurance, Hoeven said. The heart of the bill is enhanced crop insurance, which farmers across the country have indicated they need to help manage risk.
"We've passed a good, strong farm bill that will help producers manage risk, create jobs and reduce the deficit and debt," Hoeven said. "We can make it even stronger, however, in these last months and weeks before Congress approves the final legislation."
The farm bill is jobs creator and helps the economy - Hoeven said the legislation provides support for 16 million jobs in the food and agriculture sector, and contributes billions of dollars to the national economy. Agriculture has a positive balance of trade, and produces a financial surplus for the country.
The farm bill is Cost-effective and helps to reduce the deficit and debt - Hoeven also underscored the bill's cost-effectiveness. "It's not only cost-effective, but provides real savings to help reduce the deficit and debt," he said. The 2012 farm bill provides more than $23 billion in savings, $15 billion from farm programs and $6 billion from conservation programs. That represents a 10 percent reduction, he said. At the same time, the portion of funding that the farm bill dedicates to farm programs is a small share of federal expenditures, accounting for $20 billion in a $3.7 trillion budget.
The farm bill provides a strong, market-based safety net for producers - Hoeven also underscored that the farm bill provides the kind of market-based risk management tools farmers and ranchers need. The legislation enhances crop insurance with the inclusion of the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). The SCO enables producers to purchase a supplemental policy beyond their individual farm-based policy. In addition, the bill features a new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program that covers assistance for multiple-year losses. The program works with crop insurance by covering between 11 and 21 percent of a producer's historic five-year average revenues based on price and yield.
The farm bill continues the no net-cost sugar program - Hoeven worked hard to ensure that the farm bill continues the no net-cost sugar program, which ensures that American producers have a level playing field in the world market. Strong sugar policy adds more than $21 billion to the U.S. economy and helps to ensure low, stable prices for American consumers and businesses. At no cost to the American taxpayer, it creates more than 370,000 direct and indirect jobs in 42 states.
The farm bill strengthens national security - The bill is also important to national security, he said. "Our country doesn't have to depend for our food supply on other countries, countries that don't necessarily share our interests or values, and that makes us safer."
Senator Hoeven will work to improve the farm bill in conference committee
Senator Hoeven said he opposes an amendment adopted in the final hours of negotiation on the bill and will work to change it in the conference committee. The measure ties mandatory conservation programs to crop insurance, a requirement that adds red tape and places an unnecessary burden on farmers who rely on crop insurance to manage risk. Hoeven said farmers already have to comply with conservation requirements when they enroll in commodity programs. Crop insurance should not be tied to the conservation program, Hoeven said. The Senator urged producers to work with their national organizations to have the provision removed in the final legislation.
The U.S. House of Representatives is currently working on its version of a farm bill, which will have to be reconciled in conference committee with the Senate version. The current farm bill expires at the end of September.
Joining Hoeven for the roundtable meeting to discuss the recently passed Senate farm bill and the Water Bank Program were ND Barley Council Executive Director Steve Edwardson; Soybean Growers Association President Jason Mewes; Soybean Growers Association Treasurer Harvey Morken; Corn Growers Executive Director Tom Lilja; Grain Growers Executive Director Dan Wogsland; Grain Growers President Brad Thykeson; President/CEO of Black Gold Potatoes Gregg Halverson; Johnstown Bean Company's Jim Karley; a representative from the Red River Valley Sugar Beet Association; Farmers Union District Directors Terry Borstad and Ben Vig; and a representative from the ND Farm Bureau.