U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) recently joined Agri-Pulse to discuss ongoing efforts in the U.S. Senate to develop additional farm aid as part of the larger effort to provide COVID-19 pandemic aid. Hoeven is Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. In the interview, Hoeven describes specific dollar figure goals, general structure of the aid, and various needs throughout the agriculture economy as it deals with the pandemic, ongoing trade uncertainty, and depressed commodity markets. He indicates his hope of getting legislation completed later this month.
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Hoeven: Senate’s ag relief will be in line with House’s
A key Republican senator says that the Senate’s coronavirus aid package is likely to include a similar level of aid to what was in the House-passed HEROES Act: $33 billion.
Sen. John Hoeven, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, said in an interview for Agri-Pulse’sWashington Week in Review that a big acreage increase is “in the mix" for the new Soil Health and Income Protection Program, a pilot set-aside program that Senate GOP Whip John Thune inserted in the 2018 farm bill.
The HEROES Act would authorize expanding SHIP to 5 million acres. It’s now limited to 50,000 acres.
“One of the things we’ve got to start figuring out is the supply-demand situation and starting to bring these two into harmony. There’s that aspect to it as well as the conservation piece,” Hoeven said of SHIPP.
Bottom line: He expects the overall cost of the ag provisions to be in the range of $30 billion to $35 billion, which means there won’t be in the large increase in Commodity Credit Corp. spending authority that some lawmakers and the American Farm Bureau Federation had been seeking. AFBF wants the CCC spending cap, now $30 billion, raised to $68 billion.
Keep in mind: USDA has an additional $14 billion in CCC authority available starting this month, thanks to the CARES Act that was enacted in late March.
Take note: Hoeven said there could be additional funding for rural broadband expansion both in the new aid package as well as the regular fiscal 2021 spending bill for USDA and FDA.