Tester Grills Agriculture Secretary About Harmful Ag Budget

Senator Commits to Working with President and Congress to Support Montana Farmers & Ranchers

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today grilled U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue about the White House’s proposed agriculture budget, which slashes critical resources that support Montana’s top industry.

The Administration is proposing a controversial cut to crop insurance and commodity support by $38 billion over the next ten years, which would have a direct impact on the livelihoods of Montana farmers and ranchers.

“Times aren’t always good in ag, we know that, and quite frankly when prices drop there needs to be a safety net to help manage risk,” Tester told Perdue during a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. “Mother nature is mother nature, and we know that mother nature is totally unpredictable… I lost my barley crop a few years ago just because it rained really hard a day before I was supposed to cut it. Making sure that when disasters happen that we have a safety net is critically important.”

Tester, a third generation farmer, also highlighted the proposed 26 percent reduction to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program, which supports small business loans, water projects, and housing initiatives in rural America.

“Rural America is drying up and if we do this, the infrastructure isn’t there and we’ve got problems,” said Tester.

Tester also recently raised concerns over the elimination of the Undersecretary of Rural Development and called on the President to reconsider his decision, saying the agency needs a strong leader so it can support rural America.

In today’s hearing, Tester also asked Secretary Perdue about the President’s proposed closure of the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, which provides critical support to cattle producers.

“It has been around since 1924 and it has proven benefits to the ranchers throughout the country, and unequivocally in the arid areas of this country, and it’s set to close down,” said Tester. “I would ask you why would we be doing that? We got more people than we got cattle in Montana.”

Tester also asked Secretary Perdue about the importation of Brazilian beef and the risk it poses to the health and safety of America’s families and food supply. Tester has introduced legislation to temporarily ban the importation of Brazilian beef following news that meatpackers have been exporting rotten beef and trying to cover it up with cancer-causing acid.

Tester’s remarks at the hearing are available online HERE.