VALLEY CITY, N.D. (NewsDakota.com) – North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp is working with her colleagues on the new Farm Bill.
She said the combination of lower commodity prices and higher input costs is not good for farmers heading into the 2018 spring planting season.
During her visit to Valley City on March 10th, she also questioned President Trump’s trade policies and how that may negatively affect the American farmer. Below is the interview with Heitkamp about the current situation concerning the new Farm Bill.
The following is a news released issued by North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp:
U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp visited the North Dakota Winter Show where she highlighted the importance of agriculture to North Dakota’s economy and toured the show and attended the rodeo on March 10th.
“Every year the Winter Show demonstrates what makes North Dakota strong and unique – our agriculture community and everyone who plays a role in keeping our farm economy strong,” Heitkamp said. “Every day I come to work in the U.S. Senate, I’m fighting for rural America and the families whose hard work is on full display in Valley City every year at this great event.”
A member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Heitkamp helped write, negotiate, and pass the 2014 Farm Bill and has worked to implement and protect the Farm Bill for producers across North Dakota. She is looking ahead to making sure the 2018 Farm Bill works for North Dakota and is fighting to protect farmers and ranchers, especially in trying times like drought and low commodity prices.
Heitkamp has introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen and improve the Agriculture Risk Coverage-County Level program (ARC-CO), which helps farmers when commodity prices fall to damaging levels. And she recently introduced legislation to make sure the needs of Indian Country are included in the Farm Bill. The legislation would improve affordable nutrition, housing, and rural development assistance for Native American communities.
In December, Heitkamp introduced the Livestock and Honey Bee Disaster Assistance Act to expand assistance available to farmers, ranchers, and honey bee producers who have been impacted by the drought. One provision in the bill has already been signed in to law, permanently removing the funding cap for the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP), which provides financial assistance to producers of livestock and honeybees for losses due to weather events and disease. The program was capped at $20 million, but demand has been nearly $40 million and is expected to grow.
To protect farmers, ranchers, and livestock markets from burdensome reporting requirements for animal waste emissions, Heitkamp recently helped introduce the bipartisan Fair Agricultural Reporting Method (FARM) Act.
Heitkamp has been fighting to protect and expand markets for North Dakota goods, pushing the administration to back off damaging threats to withdrawal from NAFTA and speaking out against tariffs that would put the state’s economy at risk.
Exports are a critical part of North Dakota’s economy. For example:
· North Dakota is the ninth largest agriculture exporting state in the country, with $5.3 billion in goods exported worldwide in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
· North Dakota is in the top 10 most exposed states to new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, according to the Brookings Institution.
· North Dakota is home to over 17,000 workers employed in industries that are particularly dependent on production and consumption of steel and aluminum, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
· $355 million in North Dakota grain and grain products was exported in 2015, adding $570 million in value to the state’s economy, according to the U.S. Grains Council.
· 50 percent of North Dakota’s exports to the European Union are agricultural and construction machinery, according the U.S. Department of Commerce.
· 60 percent of North Dakota’s exports to China are agricultural products, according the U.S. Department of Commerce.
· Percentage of North Dakota products exported to Canada and Mexico, according to the Farm Bureau:
o 95% of ND corn
o 88% of ND beef
o 100% of ND poultry
o 90% of ND live animals
o 86% of ND pork
Heitkamp has also been focused on helping farmers and ranchers cope with the historic drought. In August, Heitkamp conducted a two-day drought and Farm Bill tour across western North Dakota to hear directly from farmers, ranchers, researchers, and FSA workers about the solutions they need now to weather the drought, and the critical programs that need to be protected and strengthened in the 2018 Farm Bill. The tour built on a listening session Heitkamp convened in July with ranchers, local leaders, and experts on the ground in Bowman to talk about solutions to address challenges they currently face related to the drought, and discuss how to best prepare down the road.
Heitkamp has worked to:
· Successfully press USDA to provide additional staffing at FSA offices across North Dakota. After Heitkamp called on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to quickly provide workers for understaffed offices, USDA agreed and announced it would temporarily provide more staff at FSA offices around North Dakota to help farmers and ranchers get immediate drought assistance. As FSA offices continue struggling to handle the volume of applications fast enough to serve farmers and ranchers, Heitkamp in October requested additional support from Secretary Perdue.
· Expand haying and livestock assistance to North Dakota farmers and ranchers.
· Meet with farmers and ranchers across North Dakota to hear more about the comprehensive solutions they need, including a roundtable in Bowman with a ranchers, local leaders, and experts, and a drought and farm bill tour across western North Dakota.
· Secure a promise from IRS to provide assurances to ranchers hit hard by the drought.
· Open up Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land for emergency haying and grazing.
· Provide key federal, state, and local informational resources. In June, Heitkamp launched her drought resources webpage to make sure farmers and ranchers can access local, state, and federal tools and assistance. These resources include haying and grazing options, tax information, mental health services, and resource eligibility requirements.
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