WASHINGTON – At an Agriculture Committee nomination hearing for the Honorable Robert F. Bonnie, nominee for Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm Production and Conservation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) secured a commitment from Bonnie that he will prioritize providing swift relief to farmers and ranchers who have been impacted by severe drought conditions if confirmed.
“I’ve been hearing concerns from ranchers in Northwest Minnesota about a lack of urgency from USDA on providing drought relief...Will you commit to working with me to get some quick action to address this as well?” Klobuchar asked. “Absolutely,” Bonnie replied.
Klobuchar’s remarks regarding the ongoing drought can be found below:
Klobuchar: “Drought, huge in my state right now, it’s classified as being under a D2 severe drought according to the US Drought Monitor. 74 of Minnesota’s 87 counties are classified that way, and I led a letter with our Minnesota delegation, Democrats and Republicans, to Secretary Vilsack on July 15th requesting the authorization of emergency haying and grazing of CRP lands. If confirmed, will you work to provide relief for ranchers and farmers during extreme summer drought conditions?
Klobuchar: Okay, I’ve been hearing concerns from ranchers in Northwest Minnesota about a lack of urgency from USDA on providing drought relief. One example is that wetland restoration acres under CRP are currently ineligible for emergency haying and grazing when the livestock forage disaster program is triggered; they had been previously eligible under a FSA policy change until there was a policy change earlier this year. Will you commit to working with me to get some quick action to address this as well?
Bonnie: Yes, of course, Senator.
Senator Klobuchar has been a leading advocate for Minnesota farmers and ranchers throughout the severe drought conditions this summer. In July, she led a bipartisan letter to Secretary Vilsack urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to authorize additional Conservation Relief Program (CRP) lands for emergency haying and grazing. Klobuchar has also introduced legislation with Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) that would improve the USDA’s ability to quickly authorize emergency haying and grazing on CRP lands in response to droughts and other natural disasters.
# # #