Jon Tester

06/28/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/28/2018 17:45

Tester Works with Republicans and Democrats to Pass Strong Farm Bill Out of Senate

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester today worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass a strong Farm Bill out of the Senate.

'This Farm Bill works for Montana because it protects crop insurance, strengthens the safety net, supports responsible conservation, and invests in rural America,' said Tester, who farms the land his grandparents homesteaded. 'It gives family farmers and ranchers long-term certainty and provides them with access to what they need to stay on the land and build strong futures.'

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. The Senate-passed Farm Bill reflects the priorities Tester heard from Montana farmers and ranchers during his listening sessions.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill last week that cuts funding for successful agriculture initiatives, as well as hunger relief for kids and seniors. The House and Senate must pass the same version of the Farm Bill before it can be signed into law by the President.

Tester is demanding the House of Representatives stop playing politics with the Farm Bill, and pass the Senate's version of the legislation as soon as possible.

'The House must stop making political hay out of the Farm Bill because Montana farmers and ranchers need certainty,' Tester added. 'Folks should stay at work until this bill is on the President's desk.'

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

  • 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 also attached a bipartisan amendment to the Senate Farm Bill that provides state and local Farm Service Agency Committees with the ability to identify new ARC boundaries in large, rural counties. This amendment will better reflect crop and growing conditions for farmers enrolled in ARC crop insurance.

The current Farm Bill expires at the end of September.

The Senate passed the Farm Bill 86-11.