Sen. Jon Tester Holds Farm Bill Hearing

Renée Jean reported last week at the Williston Herald (N.D.) Online that, “A bill Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) co-introduced with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that would raise the maximum loan amounts for farmers and ranchers under FSA programs was mentioned positively multiple times during a farm bill panel that included cattle ranchers and farmers put on by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Monday.

The Capital for Farmers and Ranchers Act is intended to help both farmers and ranchers navigate a low-price environment, in which cattle and wheat — two of the MonDak’s top commodities — are facing historic lows. Meanwhile, on top of that, vomitoxin has struck wheat farmers in both northwestern North Dakota and northeastern Montana, deepening the pain for both. Such high vomitoxin means that even using it for feed can be problematic, and many have said they will have to burn the contaminated crop..

The Hoeven-Klobuchar measure would raise caps on Farm Service Agency direct farm loans, operating loans, and ownership loans, as well as guaranteed farm loans, operating loans and ownership loans.”

Ms. Jean noted that, “The cap on direct operating and direct farm ownership loans is presently $300,000. The bill would raise that to $600,000. It also increases the loan cap for guaranteed operating and guaranteed farm ownership loans from $1.399 million to $2.5 million.

“Leaders of various farm and ranch agencies in Montana saw the increased levels as largely a good idea, and said they would be particularly helpful for beginning producers trying to get a start in farming.”

The Herald article added that, “Another clear theme was the need for farm groups to keep nutrition tied to the farm bill.

“‘Decoupling nutrition from the Farm Bill is a disaster in my opinion,’ said Chris Christians, legislative and project specialist with the Montana Farmers Union. ‘The simple fact of it is, it’s only because of votes from members of Congress who live in areas of food deficiency that we are guaranteed a farm bill will pass at all. When it makes up 80 percent of a farm bill, decoupling would be the end of the farm bill in the future.’

Tester agreed with that, and said the effort to decouple nutrition from the farm bill is ultimately an effort to kill both.”

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