Tester: Pass a Farm Bill Now
U.S. Senate's Only Farmer Calls for Swift Action After Farm Bill Expires
(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the Senate's only working farmer, issued the following statement after Congressional leaders let the Farm Bill expire:
"It is time for Congress to quit making political hay out of the Farm Bill and put our bipartisan solution on the President's desk. I will hold Washington accountable to Montana farmers and ranchers to ensure they have the certainty they need to prepare for next growing season."
Tester expressed concern that the Farm Bill's expiration will make it more difficult for farmers to secure operating loans in advance of next spring.
Tester worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill out of the Senate in June. The Senate Farm Bill is endorsed by Montana's agriculture organizations because it contains the following provisions:
• Reauthorizes and keeps intact both Price Loss Coverage and Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) insurance. Keeps the popular Conservation Stewardship Program intact.
• Amends the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to better work for Montana producers. Increases the maximum acreage of the Conservation Reserve Program.
• Directs the USDA Secretary to more actively fight the spread of Foot and Mouth Disease. Protects sugar policies that have been successfully utilized in the current Farm Bill.
• Reauthorizes the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, which is vital to the mission of the Northern Plains Research Lab in Sidney.
• Mandates funding for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program.
• Removes hemp from the list of controlled substances, enabling it to be sold as a commodity.
• Consolidates the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program to create a new trade promotion initiative.
• Reauthorizes critical USDA Rural Development Grants that are used to rebuild and construct water and wastewater infrastructure and expand access to high-speed internet in rural areas.
Tester worked relentlessly to ensure Montana farmers and ranchers had a say in the drafting of the Farm Bill and held seven open-to-the-public Farm Bill listening sessions across the state to gather feedback from producers.