Tester Talks Farm Bill With Eastern, Central Montana Farmers and Ranchers

Senator Hosts Latest Stops on Farm Bill Listening Tour in Glendive and Lewistown

(Lewistown, Mont.)—U.S. Senator Jon Tester today held more stops on his “Barnstormin Farm Bill Listening Tour” and met with farmers and ranchers in Glendive and Lewistown to discuss priorities for the next Farm Bill.

“The only way to ensure that the next Farm Bill works for Montana is to give Montana family farmers and ranchers a seat at the table,” Tester told the attendees. “The next Farm Bill must provide producers with the tools to succeed, and with low commodity prices across the board, it is as critical as ever that we ensure the safety net is more than a talking point.”

Tester heard feedback from local producers on the current Farm Bill and then discussed specific priorities for the next Farm Bill that include strengthening safety nets, expanding export access to China and other international markets, minimizing the threat of predators, and resolving trade disputes with Canada.

Montana farmers and ranchers praised Tester for holding more listening sessions, and applauded his effort to provide local producers with a voice in the construction of the next Farm Bill.

“We realize the urgency to begin the process of fighting for Montana’s farmers and ranchers on the Farm Bill,” said Alan Merrill, President of Montana Farmers Union. “Provisions including crop insurance, the Nutrition Title, support of rural development and access to credit are forefront in the debate. Senator Tester understands the needs of Montana’s farmers and ranchers. We certainly appreciate the opportunity to communicate the priorities of our membership. The listening sessions hosted by the senator were a perfect way to do that.”

“It’s important for policymakers to gather input from the growers who are directly affected by the Farm Bill and we appreciate Senator Tester for providing this opportunity,” said Lola Raska, Executive Vice President of the Montana Grain Growers Association. “As a farmer himself, Jon inherently understands the cyclical nature of farm economics and knows that a strong safety net is critical to sustaining the industry that feeds our citizens.”

“Thank you to Senator Tester for ensuring that the concerns of Montana ranchers are included in the next Farm Bill,” said Errol Rice, Vice President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “With price volatility in the cattle market and prices low, we need to ensure that the next Farm Bill protects rancher’s bottom line and increases exports to ensure profitability.”

Tester’s listening sessions were open to the public, and were the fourth and fifth Farm Bill listening sessions as part of his statewide “Barnstormin’ Farm Bill Listening Tour.”

Tester will hold additional Farm Bill listening sessions in the coming weeks and months as Congress prepares to draft a new Farm Bill next year. Tester helped pass a four-year Farm Bill in 2014 that included robust investments in critical livestock disaster assistance, crop insurance, and the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Program.

Tester is the only active farmer in the U.S. Senate, and he and his wife Sharla still farm the land his grandparents homesteaded over a century ago.