by David Ramsey
WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today applauded the House passage of the Farm Bill Conference Report. This comprehensive bill includes provisions that will benefit Arkansas’s agriculture industry—which supports 1 in 6 jobs and $17 billion of economic activity annually. The bill now heads to the Senate for final passage.
• Strong market protections for southern farmers: This bill allows farmers to choose a protection plan that works best for their farm and crops, which is especially important for Arkansas producers who are often affected by changes in commodity markets and severe weather conditions.
• Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program: This program provides federal payments to local governments to offset losses in property taxes on nontaxable federal land, and fund critical services like police, fire protection, and emergency response. This year, Pryor joined a bipartisan coalition of his colleagues to call on the Farm Bill conference committee to fully fund the PILT Program.
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) catfish inspection program: This program keeps the catfish inspection program intact to ensure that our food supply is safe and healthy. In 2013, Pryor fought hard to ensure that this provision was included in the Senate Farm Bill.
• Forest Roads Bill: This bipartisan provision, sponsored by Pryor, prohibits the EPA from requiring landowners to acquire an additional permit to manage runoff from forest roads.
• Forest Products Fairness Act: This provision, introduced by Pryor, expands opportunities for Arkansas timber farmers by allowing their products to qualify for the USDA’s BioPreferred Program.
• Livestock Disaster Assistance Program: This bill makes the Livestock Disaster Assistance Program permanent to ensure Arkansas ranchers are protected in times of severe weather and natural disasters.
• Rural Development Funding: Under this bill, rural development programs—from waste water management to farmer and rancher startup assistance—receive funding to strengthen our local communities and support the livelihood of our agricultural producers and their families.
• Conservation Programs: Pryor, a member of the Migratory Bird Commission, supports provisions in the bill that conserve land for hunting, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors.
• Market Access Program: This provision benefits farmers and ranchers by helping them promote their agricultural exports to foreign markets.
• Assistance for Arkansas Families: This bill streamlines the SNAP program by cutting billions in waste, fraud, and abuse while supporting those who need it most.