On Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved its farm bill on a near-unanimous vote, sending the bill to the Senate floor for a debate by the end of the month.
“The farm bill is an important program for producers. It provides them some certainty and predictability going forward,” said Lola Raska, executive vice president of the Montana Grain Growers Association.
An important component of the farm bill for Montana farmers is its safety net programs.
“Some of the most important programs to our producers are the commodity title which provides a strong safety net,” said Raska. “Crop insurance is also very important to our growers. Both of those programs moved forward.”
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and worked with organizations like the Montana Grain Growers to make sure it’s good for Montana producers.
“As Montana’s lone voice on the U.S. Senate’s Ag Committee, I’ll be fighting to protect critical programs like crop insurance as well as the sugar program,” said Daines. “I’ll also be working to fund ag research facilities across our state as well as active forest management reform to best prepare Montana for the wildfire season.”
As one of the Senate’s only farmers, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said the Senate’s Farm Bill is good for Montana.
“I’ve had several listening sessions around the state of Montana and I can tell you what the farmers have told me-don’t screw it up” said Tester. “That’s what I was looking for. I was looking for a farm bill, particularly the crop insurance portion, that will continue to work. The crop insurance program we have now isn’t perfect but it’s pretty darn good. I think it works in times of low prices and in times of drought. I think we’ve kept that pretty whole.”
With one out of every three bushels of wheat raised in Montana exported, the Montana Grain Growers Association is also pleased the Senate farm bill contains funding for important export promotion programs.
“We were very pleased to see there was funding allocated for some of the important market promotion programs that we’ve been supportive of like the Foreign Market Development Program and Market Access Program. Both received funding in both the House and Senate farm bills,” Raska said.
As for passage of the farm bill in the House, there’s more uncertainty there. Ongoing disagreements regarding the Nutrition Title which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamp program have blocked passage.