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Hoeven gathers farm bill input, checks out ag research

MANDAN, N.D. — Sen. John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, on Friday reviewed agriculture research being conducted at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Northern Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan and gathered input from the customer focus group, which is comprised of local producers, about research and priorities as work begins to craft the 2018 Farm Bill.

“Our farmers and ranchers do a tremendous job providing us with the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world,” said Hoeven. “The agriculture research being conducted in North Dakota will help our producers to increase crop yields, prevent disease, and improve soil health to enable our farmers and ranchers to overcome challenges and produce the food we need to feed the world. We’re gathering input now that will help us as we draft the next farm bill.”

Hoeven, who oversees agriculture research funding as chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, met with the customer focus group, local producers who work with USDA employees at the lab to recommend research that would be beneficial. The group is working on a soil health project and provided input on research priorities as well as important priorities for the next farm bill.

Hoeven has worked to secure funding for the Agricultural Research Service, the USDA’s in-house research arm that maintains the research facility in Mandan and the Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center in Fargo. In FY 2017, ARS received $1.178 billion in funding to support agriculture research.

Additionally, Hoeven has been working to support North Dakota producers, who are challenged by low commodity prices, including initiatives to:

  • Provide Greater Access to Capital – Hoeven is working to reintroduce the Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act, legislation to increase the maximum loan amount that an individual producer is able to receive under the Farm Service Agency’s Direct and Guaranteed Loan Programs. This will help ensure farmers and ranchers have access to enough capital to continue their operations when revenue is limited. For example, it increases the FSA loan guarantee amount, which will now cover up to $2.5 million, up from $1.39 million, and doubles the amount on Direct Operating and Direct Farm Ownership Loans from $300,000 to $600,000.
  • Provide Flexibility in Farm Programs – Last year, Hoeven secured a new $5 million, nationwide pilot program in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Agriculture Appropriations bill to improve the fairness of the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) payment calculations. The senator continues to pursue a fix for the issues that have occurred prior to the farm bill expiring, while exploring long-term solutions to the problem for the next farm bill.  It is critical that both the ARC and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs are updated as necessary to provide a safety net that works when times are tough.

Hoeven plays a key role in shaping the nation’s agriculture policy as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee. Hoeven also served on the Senate-House Conference Committee that crafted the final farm bill of 2014.

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