After questions from Senator Klobuchar, Secretary Purdue committed to prioritizing the implementation of a vaccine bank, animal disease preparedness, dairy, and conservation programs
Secretary Perdue encouraged the EPA to finalize the rulemaking process to allow the sale of E15 year round, which would provide a much-needed boost to our rural economy
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) received commitments from Secretary Perdue on the implementation of the Farm Bill at the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing “Implementing the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.” After questions from Senator Klobuchar, Secretary Purdue committed to prioritizing the implementation of a vaccine bank, animal disease preparedness, dairy, and conservation programs.
“The threat of foreign animal disease. Senator Cornyn and I worked on 300 million dollars for permanent mandatory funding to create a vaccine bank and we also have a new animal disease preparedness and response program. How is USDA coming along on these – is there any kind of plans to deploy them on a timeline?” Klobuchar asked.
Secretary Perdue responded:
“Undersecretary Ibach has been on top of this, even before the appropriations there in developing this strategy called a three legged stool. It deals with working our early discovery and detection with network labs all across there, working with our partners in the state and both the Mexico and Canada. And our borders there for early detection and then to create the vaccine bank. I think again, the industry is waiting on us to sort of help them with the technology and which way we’re going to go in developing the bank. Probably when we make that decision there may be more funds needed for the bank itself, but I think the industry did a great job in raising awareness. I think you all responded well in that regard.”
“Dairy Farms, more and more of them facing closure, and the shutdown didn’t help there, but can you commit to ensuring the new sign-up for the new Dairy Margin Coverage program is prioritized?” Klobuchar asked.
“I absolutely can and yes we’re just going to break our necks to get those done,” Perdue responded.
“Senator Thune and I have a bill, provision that got in the Farm Bill - the Agriculture Data Act,” Klobuchar continued. “That is studying and figuring out conservation practices. I think it will be helpful for farm and ranch profitability as well as our lands.
Can you commit to proceeding with the study quickly and to ensuring that it is delegated to the Farm Production and Conservation mission area?”
“Certainly. We pride ourselves on being data driven, facts based decision makers,” Perdue responded.
“It has been almost 5 months since the President instructed the EPA to begin the rulemaking process to allow the sale of E15 year round, which would provide a much-needed boost to our rural economy,” said Klobuchar. “As you know, there’s been issues with prices for our commodities and other things and this is something that will be helpful. It’s my understanding that a proposed rule still has not been published by EPA and that you told the House Agriculture Committee yesterday that the rule will not be completed before the summer driving season.
Some reports now say that it will be done by June 1. Will it be finalized by June 1st and what can you do to help us?”
Perdue responded: “I was speaking on the latest information I had. I was overruled by the Acting Administrator yesterday, who based on his confirmation hearings and his vote today I think has committed once again to drive his troops in order to get that done by June 1st and we’d encourage that.”
Klobuchar added: “Well that’s good news, and I bet your words were helpful trying to get it done.”
Video of Klobuchar’s questioning can be found HERE.
The 2018 Farm Bill includes several of Klobuchar’s priorities, including provisions to create an animal disease vaccine bank and disaster response program, promote precision agriculture and broadband deployment, and provides more coverage and more flexible tools for dairy producers, and invest in renewable energy programs including the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Klobuchar introduced several bills and amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill that were included in the final text, including provisions to:
- Invest in renewable energy by continuing mandatory funding levels for programs in the Energy Title ($625 million in mandatory funding over ten years);
- Permanently authorize and provide $300 million in mandatory funding over ten years for an animal disease and disaster response program and a foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccine bank to help to adequately address risks to animal health, livestock export markets, and industry economic stability, based on her legislation with Senator John Cornyn (R-TX);
- Promote precision agriculture and target broadband deployment to the nation’s farms and ranches, based on Klobuchar and Senator Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act;
- Increase acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to 27 million acres and further expand and incentivize land transitions to beginning farmers, based on Klobuchar and Senator John Thune’s (R-SD) Conservation Program Improvement Act;
- Reduce the incentives to convert native sod to crop production by closing a loophole that allows certain non-insured, non-annual crops to circumvent the “Sodsaver” provision, based on Klobuchar and Senator John Thune’s (R-SD) American Prairie Conservation Act;
- Increase the caps on Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans to ensure farmers have access to capital and further target loans to beginning farmers and ranchers;
- Encourage cross boundary management of forests to protect water resources, enhance wildlife habitat, restore forest health, and strengthen local economies, based on Klobuchar and Senator Steve Daines’ (R-MT) Empowering State Forestry to Improve Forest Health Act;
- Provide more coverage and more flexible tools for dairy farmers by allowing operations to cover margins up to $9.50 (previously there were no options at $8.50, $9.00, or $9.50) and allows each dairy operation that participated in the Margin Protection Program in 2014 – 2017 to receive a repayment of a portion of premiums paid over that time period as either a 50% direct refund or a 75% credit toward future premiums ($58 million in refunds). The repayment provision is based on an amendment that Klobuchar included in the Senate version of the bill;
- Includes a mandated USDA report on Agriculture and Conservation Data that lays the groundwork for future administrative or legislative action, based on Klobuchar and Senator John Thune’s (R-SD) Agriculture Data Act.
As a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and a 2014 Farm Bill Conference Committee member, Klobuchar successfully pushed for key provisions in the last Farm Bill – including measures to support rural development projects, conservation programs, agricultural research, and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).