Daines Makes Important Gains for Montana Farmers and Ranchers

U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines today secured key provisions for Montana farmers and ranchers. 

“As a steadfast champion of our state’s number one industry, I work everyday to ensure that our farmers and ranchers are being heard and well represented,” Daines stated. “I was able to secure important provisions to sustain funding for initiatives to help farmers and ranchers with loans, help stop diseases that are encroaching our forests and expand employment opportunities for veterans in agriculture.” 

“The Montana Grain Growers Association thanks Sen. Daines’ for protecting the ARS Insect Research Unit in Sidney and for his efforts to secure increased funding for the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative,” Rob Davis, President, Montana Grain Growers Association. “Both programs provide essential research and services that benefit grain growers across Montana and the West. The MGGA appreciates Sen. Daines’ ongoing efforts to fight for Montana ag.” 

This morning, the Senate Committee on Appropriations overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan FY2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. 

Daines helped secure the following provisions to improve and sustain Montana’s robust agriculture sector:

Brucellosis Disease Management – Directs the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service to work with relevant local, state and federal agencies to improve communication and utilize sound science to develop effective strategies for managing brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Additionally, the bill directs funding towards zoonotic disease management, which would advance research into vaccines and other tools to counter brucellosis. 

Agriculture Research Service’s Sidney Insect Unit – Daines was able to sustain funding for the ARS Insect Unit Research Laboratory based in Sidney despite efforts to shutter the facility made by the Obama Administration. This laboratory conducts essential research into pests and diseases impacting the northern Great Plains region, including the wheat stem sawfly, grasshoppers and Mormon crickets.

Military Veterans in Agriculture – Creates incentives for military veterans to explore career opportunities in production agriculture.  It provides $5 million through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Secretary for veteran outreach initiatives and $2.5 million for the Food and Agriculture Resilience Program for Military Veterans (FARM-Vets) under the National Institute of Food and Agriculture – the first funding the program has received.  The bill also includes funding to waive FSA loan application fees for veteran farmers and ranchers. 

U.S. Wheat Barley Scab Initiative – Daines secured increased funding for the U.S. Wheat Barley Scab Initiative to help producers fight this disease that is becoming a serious problem for Western states like Montana. 

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Increases transparency within all agencies of USDA. The agencies are encouraged to disclose costs associated with analyses required by NEPA. 

Forest Products Research: Highlights the importance of the forest products sector to the U.S. economy and the need to develop and utilize new and improved forest products. 

Farm Service Agency (FSA) – Prohibits closure of FSA county offices, and provides resources for personnel and physical security programs across county offices.     

Rural Infrastructure – $1.25 billion for rural water and waste program loans, the same as the FY2016 enacted level.  The measure provides $6.94 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans.