Committee-approved legislation includes key Klobuchar priorities to increase investment in renewable energy, promote precision agriculture, create an animal disease and disaster program, and support dairy and beginning farmers
Bill expected to go to the Senate floor for a vote by the 4th of July
WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today announced that the 2018 Farm Bill passed the Senate Agriculture Committee with strong bipartisan support. The bill includes Klobuchar’s provisions that would help provide certainty to farmers and ranchers, create an animal disease and disaster program, and support dairy farmers. The bill also protects and expands crop insurance to improve access for beginning farmers, preserves a strong safety net for farmers, and maintains important access to food assistance for families in need while saving millions of taxpayer dollars by cracking down on fraud and abuse.
“Our farmers are facing a lot right now—everything from low prices to late winter weather in the Midwest. It makes it even more important that we come together with a solid and consistent farm policy out of the Congress when farmers are facing those kinds of headwinds,” Klobuchar said.
“I’m glad that there is a strong farm safety net in this bill, as well as the efforts I led to get permanent authorization of the National Animal Disease Preparedness Response and Recovery Program. This bipartisan bill also includes important conservation protections and includes my legislation with Senator Thune to allow more data collection to help farmers reduce risk and increase their profit. The bill also includes my amendment to fund important energy programs and includes additional support for dairy farmers. All in all, this has been a great effort and a sign to our rural communities that we’re going to have some consistency coming out of the United States Senate.”
The 2018 Farm Bill includes several of Klobuchar’s priorities, including provisions to create an animal disease and disaster response program, invest an additional $100 million to improve affordability and flexibility for small dairy producers, improve agriculture data research of conservation practices to help farmers reduce risk and increase profitability, and protect the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funding.
Klobuchar also introduced several amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill that were included in the Committee-passed text, including provisions to:
- Increase investment in renewable energy by restoring mandatory funding levels for programs in the Energy Title;
- 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;
- Disincentivize the conversion of native sod to cropland by closing a crop insurance yield substitution loophole in all 50 states, based on Klobuchar and Senator John Thune’s (R-SD) American Prairie Conservation Act; and
- Change the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)-Transition Incentives Program to further expand and incentivize land transitions to beginning farmers.
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).
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, Klobuchar has been a leader in pushing to expand and improve communications infrastructure in rural areas. In May, Klobuchar, Wicker and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the bipartisan Rural Wireless Access Act of 2017 to expand broadband deployment using accurate coverage maps. In April, Klobuchar and Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) led a bipartisan group of 56 senators in urging the FCC to continue advancing broadband deployment in rural communities. Last year, Klobuchar and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced legislation to measure the economic impact of broadband on the U.S. economy. Klobuchar, Capito, Senators Angus King (I-ME), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and John Boozman (R-AR) also led 48 senators in urging the Administration to include broadband in any infrastructure initiative.
Video of Klobuchar speaking at the hearing is available for download here: KLOBUCHAR_OS1_AG_061318.mp4