Senator John Hoeven today spoke at the Wahpeton Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting, stressing the need for the nation to implement the kind of pro-growth legal, tax and regulatory approach that has driven North Dakota's dynamic economy. The senator's remarks focused on how passing a strong farm bill, implementing a comprehensive energy plan and expanding trade could help the nation create jobs and grow the economy.
"During the past decade, we have worked together in North Dakota to build a strong business climate that has attracted new industries and jobs to our communities, just as we see here in the Wahpeton-Breckenridge area" Hoeven said. "The smart, pro-growth approach North Dakota has developed can serve as a blueprint for the nation. We can reach our goals for economic growth and job creation by passing the right kind of farm bill, enacting a comprehensive national energy plan and expanding foreign trade."
Hoeven began his remarks with highlights of the new five-year farm bill that he and other Agriculture Committee members crafted and passed with a strong, bipartisan majority in the Senate last year. The heart and soul of the bill, he said, is enhanced crop insurance, which farmers and ranchers across North Dakota and the country have indicated they want for better risk management.
The bill also provides $23 billion in savings for deficit reduction, streamlines farm programs and ensures that farmers and ranchers continue to have strong support not only with enhanced crop insurance, but also a provision to help producers with shallow losses. The bill also continues the no-cost sugar program and provides support for research to ensure that U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world. The senator is now working with his colleagues in Congress to reintroduce and pass the farm bill in both chambers of Congress.
The senator also focused on the need for the country to enact a comprehensive energy plan similar to the one North Dakota implemented more than a decade ago with EmPower N.D. Such a plan, he said, will create jobs, grow the economy, make energy more affordable for consumers and move the nation toward true energy security. Hoeven said the nation needs to empower private-sector investment that will drive the technology to produce more energy with better environmental stewardship. Hoeven outlined some of the legislation he's introduced to develop a comprehensive energy plan for the country.
That includes DEJA, a wide-ranging package of 13 diverse energy bills that addresses both traditional and renewable development, and is designed to streamline and simplify regulations, boost domestic energy supplies, build American energy infrastructure and safeguard America's supply of critical minerals. It also establishes an all-of-the-above energy program for federal lands by reviewing the nation's energy needs and goals for federal land energy production. Furthermore, this legislation includes a provision to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which will move not only Canadian oil, but also crude from the Bakken in Montana and North Dakota.
The senator has also introduced the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act, which provides strong state oversight for the storage and management of coal residuals, while empowering the industry to safely recycle it into useful and less-expensive construction materials; and the Empower States Act, which would ensure that states retain the right to manage hydraulic fracturing and gives them the ability to respond first to any violation. It includes provisions to prevent loss of jobs, prevent harm to consumers and the economy, prevent arbitrary regulation from federal authorities and ensure good environmental stewardship.
The senator also stressed the need for the United States to expand trade initiatives as a way to strengthen the economy and create jobs and opportunities for American workers and businesses. For example, Hoeven traveled to South Korea in 2011 to meet with Korean officials and leaders to promote mutual trade and later that year worked with a coalition of Republican senators to lead a bipartisan compromise with the White House that resulted in the approval of the South Korea, Colombia and Panama Free Trade Agreements, which had languished for several years. Recently, the Senator helped to reach an agreement the U.S. reached with Japan that creates more opportunities for U.S. producers to export more beef to Japan.
"North Dakota is the fastest growing state and has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation," Hoeven said. "We also lead the country in agriculture and energy production. We achieved these things in North Dakota with a pro-growth approach to growing our economy, and we can do the same thing on a national level -- starting with the right kind of farm bill, expanded trade relationships and a comprehensive pro-growth approach to energy development."