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Agriculture is more than Montana’s number one economic driver, though that is critically important. Agriculture is our state’s heritage and its heart and soul. From the wheat and sugar beet fields to grazing cattle and sheep, visual reminders of agriculture’s important contribution to our Western way of life are all around us.
You certainly cannot miss the importance of sugar beets to our economy. Sugar beets support over 4,000 Montana jobs and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to our state’s economy.
This was particularly evident to me during visits to Sidney Sugars and the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project’s (LYIP) Intake Diversion Dam. These two intricately tied operations have a significant impact on the area’s economy and Montana agriculture more broadly. The LYIP provides water for nearly 50,000 acres of sugar beets and other crops.
The fact is, without the critical water from the LYIP, Sidney Sugars would cease to exist. And while the LYIP is unfortunately currently tied up in unwarranted and unjustified litigation, I want to assure you that I will continue to support robust funding for the dam’s operation and will fight efforts to obstruct needed improvements or maintenance.
I am honored to be Montana’s only representative serving on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. I am excited to represent your priorities on that critical committee and be the voice of Montana’s farmers and ranchers, particularly during negotiations to rewrite the next farm bill over the past year. It’s important that we reauthorize programs critical to Montana farmers and ranchers prior to the farm bill’s expiration at the end of September.
And while we’re no longer in the throes of summer, the impacts of last year’s wildfires and drought are still making an impact. Over 1 million acres were lost during Montana’s 2017 wildfire season, including many farming and ranching lands. During the summer, I worked hard to secure additional funding and flexibilities for Montana farmers and ranchers.
By working with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, we were able to authorize grazing and haying on Conservation Reserve Program acreage, open the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge for emergency grazing relief, and obtain important extensions to ensure that producers have the resources and time to repair the damage from the summer.
Our state’s immense agriculture resources put us in an ideal position to help feed not only our nation, but the world. In order to do this and compete with international markets, though, Montana’s growers need to be able to efficiently export their world-class products. That’s why I’ll continue working hard for more opportunities for Montana’s producers.
Unfortunately, with the price of many commodities at decade-lows, many Montana producers are struggling. To make matters worse, some nations are not upholding their end of the bargain within trade agreements while our farms remain under strict regulation. Montana sugar farmers can compete with anyone, but some foreign governments heavily subsidize sugar production. This distorts world markets and puts Montana and U.S. producers at a disadvantage. I will continue fighting to protect the critical sugar program in the farm bill, ensure our trade agreements are enforced and ensure that Montana sugar farmers are able to compete on a level-playing field.
Montana’s producers also need to be able to compete fairly throughout our nation. During my time in Congress, I have successfully fought to prevent a burdensome Vermont food labeling law from being implemented on a national scale. This discriminatory and unnecessary regulation would have hamstrung Montana’s number one industry, directly putting hundreds of jobs at risk and increasing prices for Montana families. This effort was nothing more than an attack on Montana farm and ranch operations and would have been devastating to our sugar beet industry. You can be sure, I will fight any regulations impacting Montana agriculture are not based on sound science.
We also just closed out 2017 with historic tax cuts for hardworking Montanans. Over 700 million taxpayer dollars that were headed to Washington, D.C. every year will now stay in the pockets of Montanans instead. I fought hard for Main Street businesses — farms and ranches, bakeries, and construction companies — and I want to tell you, we secured $100 billion dollars in tax cuts for these businesses. These tax cuts will help Montana farmers and ranchers be more competitive and allow them to continue to invest in their operations and communities.
As we move toward the next farm bill, and as 2018 unfolds, I want to hear from you. Please keep in touch so I can best serve the interests of Montana agriculture – it’s one of my top priorities in Congress. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to defend and grow Montana agriculture for generations to come. Thank you for what you do.
Sugar Beet News |
via Sidney Herald http://ift.tt/2gBXmz6
January 31, 2018 at 09:56AM