Heitkamp statement on anniversary of Farm Bill being signed into law
February 12, 2015
U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp last week released the following statement ahead of the one-year anniversary of the bipartisan 2014 Farm Bill being signed into law.
Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, played a key role in helping to write, negotiate, and pass the 2014 Farm Bill in the Senate and tirelessly worked across the aisle to make sure it included provisions and programs important to North Dakota's farmers, ranchers, and entire agriculture industry. Since its enactment, Heitkamp has been focused on making sure the bill is implemented properly, and is leading efforts to connect farmers and ranchers with new programs and resources made available through the Farm Bill. With the recent downturn in commodity prices, implementing safety net programs like those included in the bill is even more critical to the success of farmers.
All week leading up to the one-year anniversary of the enactment of the Farm Bill, Heitkamp has been highlighting the importance of the Farm Bill to North Dakota and the country and providing resources for farmers and ranchers on her Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. She has focused on different themes of the bill each day – including support for agriculture jobs, farm programs, trade and exports, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, and research. Click here to view a summary on Storify of her social media posts on the Farm Bill throughout the week.
"In North Dakota, we know personally the powerful impact of our farmers and ranchers – they support good jobs, boost our economy, and put food on the table that feeds North Dakota's families as well as families all across the country and the world," said Heitkamp. "Since even before joining the Senate, passing a strong Farm Bill to help our farmers and ranchers do their jobs was my top priority. Not everyone understands the importance of supporting rural America, but North Dakotans do and so do I. This strong, bipartisan legislation is a credit to the importance of agriculture and rural jobs in our country.
"But our job didn't end a year ago. And an anniversary is the time to think about what we accomplished a year ago, but also think about what we still have to do. Over the past twelve months, I've been working every day with folks on the federal, state, and local levels to make sure the Farm Bill is implemented properly and effectively throughout North Dakota. We can't afford to take our foot off the pedal when it comes to the livelihoods of the 16 million Americans and their families whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, or the countless families around the U.S. and the world who rely on good, safe food. With risk mitigation, investments in research, support for rural infrastructure, and resources for young families to get started in farming, the Farm Bill touches nearly every aspect of rural life. Hardworking farmers and ranchers need to rely on this important Farm Bill so they can do their jobs, and at the end of each day, we should be able to say we did everything we could to support these men and women."
While crafting the Farm Bill – which reduces the nation's deficit, supports 16 million jobs across the country, and represents about 25 percent of North Dakota's economic base – Heitkamp pushed to make sure it works for North Dakotans. She was successful in helping to improve the crop insurance and livestock disaster assistance programs, preserve the Sugar Program, provide historic investments in agricultural research, and make sure the conservation compliance requirement is forward-looking so it doesn't penalize growers who unintentionally violate the program's rules.
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In the first month after the Farm Bill was signed into law, Heitkamp was successful in leading a bipartisan effort to get U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to expedite the new livestock disaster programs to help ranchers devastated by an unexpected fall blizzard. Last summer, Heitkamp brought the top U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) official overseeing conservation compliance to North Dakota, calling on him to improve consistency and predictability on wetland determinations and to have him hear firsthand how uncertainty surrounding wetland regulations affects farmers in the state.