Bipartisan bill includes Bennet-led wins for Coloradans, Awaits Floor Action
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, joined a 20-1 bipartisan majority to approve the 2018 Farm Bill.
“With the uncertainty on trade, immigration, and commodity prices, our farmers and ranchers desperately need this Farm Bill – not just to pass on the floor of the Senate, but to pass through the House and be signed by the president,” said Bennet. “I am so grateful to the leadership of this Committee for working in a bipartisan way to produce this bill that is good for Colorado.”
The Farm Bill that the Committee approved today includes several Colorado priorities. The bill legalizes hemp as an agricultural commodity, provides a variety of new tools to help the Forest Service better manage our forests, and emphasizes soil health and wildlife habitat.
During today’s markup of the bill, the Senate Agriculture Committee adopted several bipartisan, Bennet-led amendments outlined below:
Promoting Conservation and Soil Health
- Provides greater flexibility for water infrastructure projects that improve drought resilience. (Bennet #6)
- Allows the USDA to create a pilot program to improve EQIP support for small-scale producers. (Bennet #9)
- Increases funding for wildlife habitat and opportunities to improve public access for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. (Daines/Bennet #18; Bennet/Daines #7)
- Ensures drought-prone regions in Colorado are included in the Soil Health Pilot Program. (Bennet #15)
- Empowers the USDA to improve soil moisture and drought monitoring across the West. (Thune #5, with Bennet)
Improving Forest Management
- Creates of a pilot program to protect utility infrastructure from the threat of passing wildfires. (Bennet #1)
- Directs the Forest Service to evaluate the condition of our watersheds and prioritize forest restoration efforts. (Bennet #2)
Expanding Rural Economic Opportunity
- Requires the USDA to use the best data available for bison market values under the Livestock Indemnity Program. (Bennet #12)
Reducing Food Waste
- Requires a study to identify the cost and volume of domestic and imported fresh food waste. (Bennet #22)
Improving Rural Energy
- Ensures that cybersecurity and grid improvement projects are eligible for USDA Rural Utility Service loans based on the Promoting Cybersecurity for Rural Electric Utilities Act introduced last week. (Bennet Perdue #17)
- Promotes biogas and carbon capture technologies, based on the Carbon Utilization Act introduced last week with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. (Bennet #16)
The 2018 Farm Bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote.