Tester Backs Bipartisan Senate Farm Bill, Demands Swift Action from Congress

Senate Farm Bill Reflects Input from Tester’s Seven Farm Bill Listening Sessions

(U.S. Senate)- The U.S. Senate’s only working farmer today voiced his support for the Senate Farm Bill and demanded swift action from Congress to get it passed and signed into law.

The Agriculture Committee overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan bill today, teeing it up for a vote by the full Senate.

“Montana farmers and ranchers can take this Farm Bill to the bank,” said Senator Jon Tester, who farms land near Big Sandy, Mont., homesteaded by his grandparents. “It works for Montana because it protects crop insurance, strengthens the safety net, encourages conservation, and meets the needs of family farmers and ranchers.”

Tester held seven open-to-the-public Farm Bill listening sessions across Montana and launched an online portal to gather priorities and feedback from the state’s farmers and ranchers during the drafting of the legislation.

“Agriculture is Montana’s number one industry,” Tester added. “This legislation reflects the priorities and input I heard from producers during my Farm Bill listening sessions. Nobody knows the importance of the Farm Bill like the families who make their living off the land.”

Tester supports the following provisions that impact Montana producers in the Senate Farm Bill:

  • Reauthorizes and keeps intact both Price Loss Coverage and Ag Risk Coverage 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 from the current Farm Bill.
  • Reauthorizes the Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, which is vital to the mission at 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.

After the Farm Bill was passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee, Tester urged the House and Senate to work closely together to put the legislation on the President’s desk before August.

“Rural America deserves certainty,” Tester said. “Folks in Congress must check politics at the door and pass this responsible Farm Bill that invests in the families that grow the food that feeds the world.”

The House of Representatives has not yet passed a Farm Bill. The House and Senate must pass the same version of the Farm Bill before it can be signed into law by the President.

The current Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September.