Senator John Hoeven today hosted USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) Acting Administrator Brandon Willis at roundtable meetings held in Fargo and Bismarck with a broad range of North Dakota agriculture group leaders to provide an update and gather input on a number of timely matters impacting North Dakota farmers and ranchers, including prevented planting and the Farm Bill. Hoeven called today's meetings following the unusually cold weather that has impacted North Dakota this spring and because the Senate Agriculture Committee, of which Hoeven is a member, will consider the Farm Bill later this month.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will use as its starting point for the new farm bill the legislation Senator Hoeven worked to craft last year with other members of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee. Committee members will then make modifications, possibly including the addition of a countercyclical safety net, to get Southern growers onboard. A top Hoeven priority has been and continues to be inclusion of enhanced crop insurance, which farmers and ranchers across North Dakota and the country have indicated they need for effective risk management.
"We're going to mark up the farm bill in committee either at the end of next week or the beginning of the following week, and then we will do everything we can to get the legislation to the floor in May for full Senate action," Hoeven said. "The harsh weather we've been experiencing in North Dakota this spring stands as an important reminder of the range of difficulties our farmers face and the need for strong crop insurance."
Hoeven said that this season's cold weather and above-normal snowfall has adversely impacted North Dakota producers this spring and underscores the need for a new farm bill with strong risk management tools. During March and April of this year, much of the state saw temperatures nine to 15 degrees below normal, and Fargo and Grand Forks did not reach 50 degrees until April 26, breaking 100-year-old records. The unusually cold temperatures, coupled with record breaking snowstorms, have delayed the start of planting by approximately one month.
"We need to pass a Farm Bill that will continue to help our farmers and ranchers withstand the unforeseeable challenges inherent in their work so that they can continue producing the world's most stable, safe and affordable food supply," Hoeven said. "We are grateful to have Administrator Willis with us to hear directly from our producers the importance of crop insurance and prevented planting."
Hoeven said roundtable discussions like today's offer a great opportunity for the state's agriculture leaders to offer their insight and knowledge to lawmakers working to pass a strong farm bill that will enable the nation's producers to do their jobs.
"Both Administrator Willis and I appreciate hearing from North Dakota's producers, and I intend to make their voices heard as I continue working with my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee and in the Senate to pass a Farm Bill that reflects these priorities," Hoeven said.
Congressman Kevin Cramer and representatives from the office of Senator Heidi Heitkamp also attended today's meetings.