Tester Backs Bipartisan Farm Bill

Senator Fights to Boost Resources for Rural Counties

(U.S. Senate)-The U.S. Senate’s only farmer, Jon Tester, today voted for a bipartisan farm bill to strengthen Montana’s number one industry.

Tester supported the Farm Bill because it strengthens crop insurance, supports conservation, protects nutrition assistance for seniors and families, and invests in rural communities.

“As the escalating trade war hurts our nation’s producers, this bipartisan Farm Bill helps lessen the blow to Montana’s family farmers and ranchers,”
Tester said. “It provides the kind of certainty producers can take to the bank, while protecting successful conservation tools and ensuring every hungry Montanan has access to quality food.”

Tester successfully pushed to amend the Farm Bill to provide state and local Farm Service Agency Committees with the ability to improve access to the critical ARC safety net program by redrawing ARC County boundaries into multiple zones in one county. This amendment will better reflect crop and growing conditions for farmers enrolled in the ARC program in large, rural counties where conditions can vary within the county.

Tester held seven open-to-the-public Farm Bill listening sessions across the state to gather feedback from producers. The following provisions brought up during Tester’s Farm Bill listening were included in the bipartisan Farm Bill:

• Reauthorizes and keeps intact both Price Loss Coverage and Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) insurance.
• 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.
• 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.

The Farm Bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration. The current Farm Bill expired in September.

The Senate passed the Farm Bill 87-13.