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Young Farmers Hear of Efforts to Support Their Generation
North Dakota Ag Connection - 08/09/2018

Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of both the Agriculture Committee and the farm bill conference committee, Wednesday met with North Dakota Farmers Union Young Growers to outline his work to support young and beginning farmers in both the farm bill and the Fiscal Year 2019 funding legislation, which was approved by the Senate last week.

"The average age of a farmer is about 58 in the United States, so we need to do all we can to ensure that young farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to succeed," said Hoeven. "That includes providing them with strong crop insurance and risk management tools, as well as access to the capital they need to build and sustain their operations. Every American benefits every day from the hard work of our nation's producers, and we need to ensure that the next generation of farmers and ranchers are able to continue to produce the lowest cost, highest quality food supply in the world."

Hoeven outlined provisions in the Farm Bill he secured to help young growers, including:

- Strong Crop Insurance

- Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) -- Hoeven is working to ensure that both programs work for producers and to provide additional flexibility. To improve the ARC program, the bill prioritizes Risk Management Agency (RMA) data over National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data to determine yields.

- Access to Capital for Farmers and Ranchers: Hoeven secured increases to the FSA Guaranteed Operating and Ownership Loans from $1.39 million to $1.75 million, and Direct Operating Loans from $300,000 to $400,000 and Ownership Loans from $300,000 to $600,000.

- Increasing Markets for Agriculture -- Helps to create, expand and maintain foreign markets for U.S. agriculture products. The bill consolidates the Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development (FMD), Emerging Market Program (EMP) and the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) under one export umbrella to provide producers with continued access to export programs.

- Agriculture Research -- Provides strong support for agricultural research, like the work done at North Dakota State University and the North Dakota Extension Service, to enhance crop genetics and production. The Senate farm bill increases the authorized funding level for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative from $10 million to $15 million.

Additionally, as chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, Hoeven worked to secure the following provisions in FY2019 funding legislation:

- Maintains support for crop insurance and other farm bill programs.

- Funds 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.

- Fully funds the expected demand for farm direct and guaranteed and emergency loans.

- Prohibits the closure of Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices and provides funding to hire additional FSA loan officers.

- Funds the FSA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Loans program, which provides beginning farmers and ranchers, who are in their first 10 years of operation, with operating loans to help with normal operating expenses, opening new markets and marketing opportunities, diversifying operations or other start-up needs.

- Reforms Electronic Logging Device (ELD) and Hours of Service (HOS) Rules, including a one-year delay of the ELD rule for livestock haulers 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 from the agriculture and transportation industry.

Additionally, Hoeven was joined by North Dakota FSA Director Brad Thyekson to outline 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.

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