10.17.19

Chairman Roberts Hears from USDA on Farm Bill Implementation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing to hear from USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky regarding implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.

“This hearing continues our bipartisan work together. Yes, Republicans and Democrats, Congress, and the Administration, are working together to ensure that these programs operate as we intended and that changes are implemented timely and in the most farmer-friendly manner possible,” said Chairman Roberts. “This year, the Committee has held several Farm Bill hearings, including an initial overview eight months ago with Secretary Sonny Perdue.” 

“For many producers, this growing season has been far from easy. During planting season, growers experienced an historic, wet spring, which delayed plantings in many parts of the country. Others have acres that were completely prevented from being planted and are still recovering from floods.

“The 2018 Farm Bill provides important risk management tools, such as crop insurance, to mitigate the risks and losses from these unpredictable weather-related events. These challenges again highlight the need for certainty and predictability on domestic farm policy, provided by timely and farmer-friendly implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. And, that is what today’s hearing is about.”

To watch the hearing and read testimony, click here.

Click here to watch Chairman Roberts’ opening statement. Below are Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning. I call this meeting of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry to order.

Today, I am pleased to welcome back Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky to the Agriculture Committee as he provides updates on the Department’s implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Thank you, Steve, for the efforts at the Department to implement what we know is a significant and important task—omnibus legislation that affects farmers, ranchers, businesses and rural communities across this country. 

This hearing continues our bipartisan work together. Yes, Republicans and Democrats, Congress, and the Administration, are working together to ensure that these programs operate as we intended and that changes are implemented timely and in the most farmer-friendly manner possible.

This year, the Committee has held several Farm Bill hearings, including an initial overview eight months ago with Secretary Sonny Perdue. 

USDA continues to roll out changes to Farm Bill programs. As of this month, producers are able to visit their local Farm Service Agency office to sign up and choose between the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage Programs for crop years 2019 and 2020.

Important voluntary conservation programs were reauthorized and strengthened in the 2018 Farm Bill.

I understand that regulations to implement many of these programs, such as EQIP, CSP and CRP, are expected to be published in the near future.

Our producers are also monitoring animal disease prevention and management.

The 2018 Farm Bill made a great commitment to bolstering our animal health infrastructure by directing mandatory funds for preparedness efforts against outbreaks of animal diseases and tools to combat animal diseases should they impact U.S. agriculture. 

The bipartisan hemp cultivation provisions have also garnered great interest in the countryside from producers and processors alike. A new crop can provide long-term economic opportunity for farmers when regulations are implemented in a farmer-friendly manner and important pillars of their risk management tools, such as good farming practices, are in place.  

The 2018 Farm Bill also included several measures to improve the integrity of our nutrition programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program. 

SNAP improvements from the bill result in better oversight of payment error rates, modernization of the verification process, and focusing employment and training on the skills needed in the workforce.

Overall, we worked together—in a historic fashion—to get the Farm Bill through Congress, signed by the President, and to USDA to implement less than a year ago.

Members of this Committee know firsthand that producers, lenders, and rural Americans are facing another difficult year of low commodity prices, high input costs, and uncertainty in the marketplace. 

For many producers, this growing season has been far from easy. During planting season, growers experienced an historic, wet spring, which delayed plantings in many parts of the country. Others have acres that were completely prevented from being planted and are still recovering from floods.

This fall, as producers are trying to harvest their crops, challenges have continued. Just this past week, Winter Storm Aubrey and cold temperatures threatened crops and livestock from Kansas to North Dakota.

The 2018 Farm Bill provides important risk management tools, such as crop insurance, to mitigate the risks and losses from these unpredictable weather-related events.

These challenges again highlight the need for certainty and predictability on domestic farm policy, provided by timely and farmer-friendly implementation of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. And, that is what today’s hearing is about.

I now recognize Senator Stabenow for any remarks. 

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Press Contact

Meghan Cline