Deputy Agriculture Secretary Stephen Censky testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on Oct. 17. His testimony focused on implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Here’s some points from his remarks:
- The Farm Service Agency began signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage program on June 17. In total, 22,682 dairy operations signed up during the 2019 signup. Dairy producers will receive more than $300 million in financial support through the program.
- The Risk Management Agency has implemented crop insurance provisions, such as Multi-County Enterprise Units.
- The Farm Service Agency has implemented changes to the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs.
- The Farm Service Agency will hold a general CRP signup in December 2019, with a CRP Grassland signup to follow.
- USDA is on track to have the new Rural Broadband Program regulations completed by December 2019.
- USDA is moving forward with the National Accuracy Clearinghouse.
- The Hemp Production Program is moving forward.
- The U.S.-only National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank has been created.
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the hearing continues the committee’s bipartisan work to make sure the farm bill is implemented in a farmer-friendly manner.
“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,” Roberts said. “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.”
Ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, said the farm bill recognizes the diversity of American agriculture, but she also raised concerns.
“ . . . There are positive developments to celebrate, but I do have strong concerns that the USDA is rewriting critical parts of the Farm Bill that we passed by the largest bipartisan vote ever, prioritizing some regions and farmers over others, and pursuing rules that directly contradict the will of Congress,” Stabenow said.
Watch the hearing here.