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CFTC Commissioner at North Dakota Agriculture Roundtable
North Dakota Ag Connection - 08/08/2018

Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of both the Agriculture Committee and the farm bill conference committee, Tuesday held a roundtable with North Dakota farmers and ranchers to gather input and outline priorities for the farm bill conference committee, as well as the trade assistance program recently announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The senator brought Commodity Futures Trading Commissioner (CFTC) Brian Quintenz to North Dakota to highlight risk management tools and hear directly from the state's producers and commodity groups. Hoeven was also joined by North Dakota Farm Service Agency Administrator Brad Thykeson and North Dakota Ag Commissioner Doug Goehring.

"Our farmers and ranchers are the best in the world if given a level playing field," said Hoeven. "We're working to ensure that our producers have the tools they need to overcome the challenges and uncertainty facing the agriculture industry. As a member of the farm bill conference committee, I am working to ensure that we pass the strongest farm bill possible to meet the needs of our producers, and get it done this fall. We also continue pressing the Administration to get trade deals in place as soon as possible that provide our farmers and ranchers with better access to markets and the certainty they need to make long-term plans. Our farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world that benefits every American, every day."

The senator outlined priorities for the farm bill conference committee, including:

- Maintaining Crop Insurance: Both the Senate and House farm bills maintain strong crop insurance policy.

- Improving Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) & Price Loss Coverage (PLC): Hoeven said he would work to ensure the final bill builds on strengths from both the Senate and House bills. That includes utilizing Hoeven's ARC pilot program to improve flexibility and funding for ARC, a provision in the Senate bill, as well as improvements to PLC from the House bill.

- Sugar Policy: The Senate and House farm bills maintain strong sugar policy.

- Improvements to CRP and Wetland Exemptions: Both Senate and House farm bills make changes to the Conservation Reserve Program and contain language related to defining minimal effects exemptions and mitigation banking.

- FSA Guaranteed and Direct Loans: The senator said he will work to maintain FSA loan increases during conference. The Senate bill increases Direct Farm Operating loans to $400,000 from $300,000; Direct Farm Ownership loans to $600,000 from $300,000; and Guaranteed Farm Operating and Ownership loans to $1,750,000 from $1,399,000.

- Trade/Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development (FMD): Both bills consolidate and maintain funding trade programs.

- Ag Research: Both the Senate and House farm bills maintain strong land-grant research funding formula research funding for land-grant universities. The Senate increases investment in research funding. For example, the authorization for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative is increased from $10 million to $15 million. NDSU receives Agricultural Research Services (ARS) grants to study wheat and barley scab, which is a fungal disease that is common on wheat and barley in North Dakota.

Hoeven outlined his recent trade meeting with the President, where the senator reiterated the importance of ensuring access to export markets for producers and getting trade agreements in place as soon as possible. The senator also outlined the USDA's short-term trade assistance program to help producers specifically targeted by trading partners with retaliatory tariffs. The three part plan, which is expected to be finalized in late August, includes:

- Market Facilitation Program: USDA's Farm Service Agency plans to provide payments to farmers who produce soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, pork and dairy. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said between $7 and $8 billion will be direct cash payments under this program and that farmers could start receiving payments based on actual crop production by late September.

- Food Purchase and Distribution Program: USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service plans to purchase fruit, nuts, rice, beef, pork and milk products from U.S. producers for redistribution to food banks and other federal nutrition assistance programs.

- Trade Promotion Program: USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service will work with the private sector and trade associations to find new export markets for U.S. farmers to sell their products abroad. All targeted commodities will likely be eligible to apply for this program for long-term export gains.

Beginning Sept. 4, eligible farmers will be required to provide information about their crops in order to apply for assistance.

Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, also outlined provisions he included in recently passed Fiscal Year 2019 funding bills, including:

- Funding to continue Hoeven's Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) pilot program to allow for an alternate calculation method for crop payments when National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data is insufficient.

- Support for the Hoeven Water Bank initiative, which provides compensation for farmers and landowners for flooded land through 10-year, voluntary conservation agreements.

- Funding to meet the expected demand for farm direct and guaranteed and emergency loans.

- Reforms the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and Hours of Service (HOS) Rules, including a one-year delay of the ELD rule in FY2019. Hoeven has worked to provide waivers from the ELD rule for agriculture transportation and introduced bipartisan legislation to delay the enforcement of the ELD regulation until the Transportation Secretary formally proposes reforms to these rules, based on the input of a working group comprised of representatives from the agriculture and transportation industries.

The following were invited to attend the roundtable: the North Dakota Grain Growers, North Dakota Soybean Growers, North Dakota Corn Growers, Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers, Minn-Dak Sugarbeet Growers, North Dakota Cattlemen's Association, North Dakota Barley Council, North Dakota Canola Growers, U.S. Sunflower Growers, North Dakota Ethanol coalition, Northern Plains Potato Growers and the North Dakota Dry and Edible Bean.

Hoeven will meet with young farmers who are part of North Dakota Farmers Union Young Growers Aug. 8 beginning at 3:30 p.m. CT at Sproule Farms, 6700 N. Washington St. Grand Forks. The farmers will discuss the need for young people in agriculture and Hoeven's efforts as a member of the farm bill conference committee to secure a strong farm bill for America's agriculture producers.

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