Senator Heitkamp fights for rural America every day in the U.S. Senate. In North Dakota, agriculture isn’t just an industry – it’s a way of life. Agriculture makes up 25 percent of North Dakota’s economic base, and nearly 24 percent of the workforce is engaged in production agriculture. At the same time, the risks in agriculture have never been higher. Factors beyond a farmer’s control – disastrous weather, drought, infestations, or price collapse – can put an entire family farm on the line. That’s why we need a strong safety-net that helps our farmers do their jobs and feed the world.
Working to Provide Certainty for North Dakota Farmers and Ranchers
At her urging, Senator Heitkamp was appointed to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, where she worked tirelessly to help write, negotiate, and pass a long-term Farm Bill that stands up for North Dakota farmers, ranchers, and low-income families. The 2014 Farm Bill, which passed in a strong bipartisan fashion, provides North Dakota farmers and ranchers with a strong safety net to support them when times are bad, and saves $24 billion through sensible reforms and improved program delivery. Since passing the bill, Senator Heitkamp has fought to guarantee that effective implementation of the program benefits all North Dakotans. In the first month after the 2014 Farm Bill was signed into law, Senator Heitkamp successfully led a bipartisan effort to get U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to expedite the new livestock disaster programs to help ranchers devastated by an unexpected blizzard.
Key Leadership Role
Senator Heitkamp was chosen for a leadership position in the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture by her colleagues when she was named Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy. In this position, Senator Heitkamp oversees and helps shape the direction for renewable energy and economic development policies for rural America.
Defending Crop Insurance
Senator Heitkamp also played an important role in improving the prevented plant crop insurance policies for the state of North Dakota. Prior to recent changes that were made to the crop insurance program, great ambiguity surrounded which acres qualified for crop insurance coverage that were planted under “normal weather conditions.”
Recognizing the problems stemming from uncertainty regarding what constitutes normal weather, Senator Heitkamp invited top officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to North Dakota to hear from farmers and insurance providers. Based on the input the USDA Risk Management Agency received from Senator Heitkamp and the growers of North Dakota, prevented plant crop insurance policies were reformed to provide a more reliable standard for insurance coverage qualification.
Crop Insurance is the backbone of the farm safety net. Unfortunately, the program is under regular attack by opponents of its successful public-private partnership. Heitkamp has successfully worked with her colleagues and fought against attempts to cut the Federal Crop Insurance Program.