At the North Dakota Farm Bureau’s annual meeting, Senator John Hoeven outlined his efforts to ensure agriculture producers receive the support they need to weather the challenges of severe weather, low commodity prices, trade disruptions and COVID-19, with the goal of getting back to stable production conditions and market prices. To this end, Hoeven has been advancing the following efforts as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee:
- Providing agriculture assistance under the second Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and ensuring the assistance is delivered as effectively as possible.
- Securing the regular, full reimbursement of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to prevent any payment delays under Farm Bill programs.
- Pressing the administration to finalize the quality loss coverage under the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) as soon as possible.
- Providing regulatory relief, including from the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.
- Ensuring strong support for farm country’s priorities in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 funding legislation, including crop insurance and loan programs.
“Farmers and ranchers have faced real challenges in recent years, and all the while, they have continued working hard to produce the food supply that every American relies on every day,” said Hoeven. “Our efforts have been all about providing the assistance that our producers need to weather these difficult times until conditions improve, so farmers and ranchers can get back to selling their crops and livestock at fair market prices. This is a priority we continue to drive home with the administration, from securing COVID-19 relief to implementing quality loss coverage under WHIP+. Moving forward, we are working to ensure any further relief legislation considered by Congress includes additional assistance for farmers and ranchers, while also taking a targeted approach to meet the needs of our nation.”
Providing Ag Assistance
The CFAP 2 relief for farmers and ranchers utilizes the $14 billion in CCC funding Hoeven secured in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The senator raised this priority with numerous officials in the White House and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), outlining the needs of North Dakota farmers and ranchers and working to ensure the CCC funds were used for this purpose. Hoeven also held regular meetings with North Dakota producers and USDA officials, including Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce, to facilitate feedback to the administration and make sure the program works for farmers and ranchers.
CFAP 2 provides coverage for non-specialty crops, livestock, dairy and specialty crops and includes three categories of payments, which will be subject to payment limitations and adjusted gross income restrictions. Additional information on CFAP 2 is available from USDA at www.farmers.gov. Sign-up for the program runs until December 11, 2020.
Securing CCC Reimbursement
Hoeven worked to include a full reimbursement of the CCC in the continuing resolution passed earlier this year to ensure producers don’t face delays in vital Farm Bill programs, including Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Marketing Assistance Loans, Sugar Loans, and the Livestock Forage and Indemnity Programs. On multiple occasions, Hoeven led his farm state colleagues in urging support for the CCC reimbursement on the Senate floor, citing a letter signed by more than 40 farm groups calling for funding the CCC.
Pressing for WHIP+ Quality Loss Coverage
Hoeven secured the expansion of WHIP+ as part of disaster assistance legislation passed last year and has been pressing the administration to finalize the program, including in recent conversations with Fordyce and Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey, as well as a roundtable he hosted with North Dakota producers and Fordyce in October. The senator was told that FSA is working to complete the implementation process, including regulatory clearance, handbook drafting and software development and would release program details as soon as these steps are complete.
As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Hoeven supported the replacement of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, following his efforts to defund WOTUS in 2016 and 2017 and prevent its implementation. The new Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) maintains federal authority to protect the quality of navigable waters and the core tributaries that flow into them, while also making clear those waters which are not covered by federal authority, including groundwater, ditches, farm and stock watering ponds and prior converted cropland. Such waters continue to be protected under state, tribal and local regulations.
Advancing Farm Country Priorities in FY2021
Hoeven recently announced that he had secured the following key provisions in the Senate’s FY2021 funding legislation to provide certainty and needed support to farmers and ranchers:
- Maintained support for crop insurance and other farm bill programs.
- Increased funding for farm direct, guaranteed and emergency loans to meet producers’ expected demand for the program and ensure access to capital.
- Provided funding for the Hoeven Water Bank Initiative and Wetland Mitigation Banking program.
- Included language to ensure the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) uses an acre-for-acre ratio for wetland mitigation.