Legislation includes key Klobuchar priorities to invest in renewable energy, promote precision agriculture, create an animal disease vaccine bank and disaster program, and support dairy farmers
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, announced that the 2018 Farm Bill has been signed into law. The bill includes Klobuchar’s provisions that would help provide certainty to farmers and ranchers, create an animal disease vaccine bank and disaster program, and support dairy farmers. The law also promotes precision agriculture and broadband deployment, and makes critical investments in conservation and renewable energy programs.
“The Farm Bill gives our farmers and ranchers the certainty and support they need to succeed. This bipartisan legislation includes many of the priorities I fought for like a strong safety net for farmers, important conservation provisions, and support for dairy farmers,” Klobuchar said. “Now that the Farm Bill has been signed into law, we have let rural America know that in a time of trade disruptions and drastic weather events, we stand with our farmers and ranchers.”
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 protect the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funding. 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).