Agriculture | the Farm Bills
Joe Donnelly on his Farm Bill Listening Tour (2017)
Joe, who served on the Senate Agriculture Committee, fought for a number of provisions that were signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill.
“I know the farmers of Indiana and Hoosier rural communities are tired of being pawns to partisan politics. They’ve been dealing with depressed commodity prices, chaotic trade markets, and the uncertainty of federal policies…”
Since early 2017, Joe has met and heard from nearly every segment of Indiana’s agricultural community to get their input for the Senate Farm Bill.
He listened to their priorities and incorporated many of them in the bill, including support for strong crop insurance, improving soil health, addressing opioid abuse, investing in rural broadband, and more.
“Because there is more wisdom in Indiana than in Washington, DC, I firmly believe that a good Farm Bill is one written with input directly from Hoosiers that addresses issues important to our state.”
These are all of Joe’s legislative initiatives signed into law in the 2018 Farm Bill:
1. Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
Rural communities are being ravaged by the opioid epidemic.
Joe believes all Hoosiers should have access to high quality treatment programs. That’s why Joe included provisions that would combat the opioid crisis by improving access to telemedicine and targeting financing to community facilities designed for substance abuse treatment and prevention efforts.
These measures are developed from the bipartisan rural opioids package Joe introduced in 2017.
2. Supporting Rural Communities
We need to support our rural communities by helping them attract investment and growth.
Joe pushed for provisions that would help improve the delivery of high-speed internet and invest in waste—and drinking—water infrastructure to ensure water systems are providing clean and reliable water.
3. Promoting Impactful, Voluntary Conservation
Farmers across the state told Joe about the importance of cover crops and other conservation practices.
Joe secured provisions that would eliminate potential disincentives for voluntary conservation practices and would target resources towards the most impactful conservation activities.
4. Ensuring Full Planting Flexibility
Hoosier farmers know their land best and should always be able to choose to plant their fields according to market conditions.
Joe’s provision would ensure farmers can continue to plant what they want and allow them to diversify their farms without worrying about losing access to commodity support programs in the future.
This builds on the bipartisan bill Joe introduced in December 2017 and his work in the 2014 and 2008 Farm Bills.
5. Developing New Markets
Hoosier farmers deserve to compete on a level playing field and have been working for years to develop access to new international markets.
The bill draws on legislation Joe introduced that would increase export opportunities for our farmers through two export promotion programs, the Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Assistance Program.
With the Administration’s uncertain trade policies, opening up more markets for American exports is more important than ever.
6. Addressing Food Insecurity
During Joe’s Farm Bill Listening Tour, he met with representatives from statewide anti-hunger groups.
During debate on the Senate-passed bill Joe successfully advocated for an increase in funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which is essential to local hunger-relief efforts. The bill also contains a measure Joe supported that would make it easier for seniors to access food assistance programs by reducing burdensome paperwork.
7. Investing in the Future of Agriculture
We need to support the next generation of Hoosier farmers by training young people in new farming technologies.
Joe successfully fought for a provisions that would reauthorize and revamp the New Era Rural Technology Program to help community colleges fund efforts to develop a workforce trained in precision agriculture management. This would help continue to improve the efficiency of modern farming.