Letter: Senate-passed farm bill includes wins for Hoosiers



Agriculture is an essential part of the fabric that defines Indiana. Hoosier farmers are growing the food that feeds our families; biofuel producers are making the ethanol and biodiesel that drives our economy and ag students and researchers are developing the technologies of tomorrow.

Right now, Hoosier farmers and our communities are navigating significant challenges dealing with turmoil on the international marketplace, uncertainty in federal policies like the RFS and low commodity prices that in many cases are below the cost of production.

Importantly, the Senate recently passed a farm bill that I helped write, which would provide Hoosier farmers with some desperately-needed stability. I’m proud of the Hoosier input and bipartisan work that went into getting it passed.

Combatting the opioid epidemic in rural communities remains a priority for me, and this bill includes three of my bipartisan provisions that would combat the opioid epidemic by targeting telemedicine and community facility investments for substance abuse treatment and by investing in prevention and education programs.

This bill would eliminate potential disincentives for voluntary conservation practices like cover crops and would support soil health improvement programs.

As Hoosier farmers work to sell their products around the world, the bill would increase export opportunities for Hoosier farmers through two export promotion programs: the Foreign Market Development Program and the Market Assistance Program.

I also have worked to ensure full planting flexibility for farmers who want to plant fruits and vegetables, which ensures farmers can diversify their farms without worrying about losing access to commodity-support programs in the future.

As we work to fight hunger, this farm bill would strengthen the oversight of the SNAP, while preserving the ability to fight food insecurity. It also would make it easier for seniors to access food assistance by reducing burdensome paperwork and would increase funding for the local food assistance efforts.

Now that the Senate has passed this bipartisan farm bill, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to reconcile differences so that we can quickly get this to President Trump’s desk. Farmers and rural communities across our state deserve the certainty of a bipartisan, five-year farm bill and I am confident that, working together, we can get it done.

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, Indianapolis