Sen. Heidi Heitkamp “Confident” about Passing Farm Bill
With the bill headed for conference, she is ecstatic about bipartisan support in Senate
WAHPETON, N.D. — When Senator Heidi Heitkamp entered the room with several eager farmers, she quickly eased the fears of producers concerned about the Farm Bill.
“You can’t promise anything for certain, but I feel pretty confident that we’re going to get a farm bill ahead of the September 30 deadline,” said Heitkamp.
While the bill is heading towards the conference stage, where the House and Senate put their versions side–by–side, the Senator says that the bipartisan support of the Senate bill was impressive.
“The Senate bill, in it of itself, got the largest bipartisan vote in the history of farm bills. Think about that. 86 to 11. That’s kind of unheard of in today’s world,” said Heitkamp.
But it wasn’t all smiles from Heitkamp. With retaliatory tariffs from China going into effect today, Heitkamp says that trade is one of those uncertain factors going forward.
One thing the Senator addressed was a possible tariff from the President on automobiles.
“That is still on the table, we’re not sure what’s going to happen with that, but with that, if you’re just talking about escalation, most people I talk to say ‘can we just slow it down so we can get one thing resolved before we move onto the next thing,” said Heitkamp.
Even with trade hanging in the balance, some farmers are worried about how the final Farm Bill will incorporate the House’s clause concerning SNAP and work requirements.
“These work requirements that are in the House Bill are going to be very difficult to comply with, people are going to have to travel some and go to some training that, and for many of them, it might not be doable for them based on their limited mobility,” said Jim Dotzenrod, a farmer, North Dakota State Senator, and a candidate to become the North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner.
Some farmers are just hopeful that the 2018 Farm Bill will have similar benefits to the 2014 version.
“Going forward, it would mean that farmers are going to be able to go to their lenders, they’re going to get the credit they need, they’re going to have crop insurance in place,” said Dotzenrod.
Congressman Kevin Cramer, who is running against Heitkamp for her Senate seat, issued a statement about the tariffs, commending the President for “instructing the USDA for giving farmers a safety net.”