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ND congressional delegation want early start to farm bill

BISMARCK--Members of North Dakota's congressional delegation see an opportunity to make the next federal Farm Bill friendly to state farmers and ranchers if input can be gathered when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., early next year.

BISMARCK-Members of North Dakota's congressional delegation see an opportunity to make the next federal Farm Bill friendly to state farmers and ranchers if input can be gathered when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., early next year.

"The earlier we start, the more creative we can be," Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., told attendees of the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts annual meeting in Bismarck on Tuesday.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., spoke to the group on Monday about her preferences on the next bill.

Cramer said there's a degree of risk involved because, while gathering ideas that may not have been put forward in the past is positive, lawmakers could get bogged down by a large number of issues on the table.

"I'm excited about that opportunity to do that," Cramer said of early work on the bill.

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The 2014 bill came after the previous one had expired in fall 2012.

Cramer said one item he'd like to try to get movement on is to reduce the backlog of wetland determinations through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., agreed that conservation matters will loom large in any new bill. He said efforts to craft the next bill must allow for legislation to be as farmer-friendly as possible.

"Over the course of 2017, we'll take a lot of input. In 2018, I expect we'll write a new Farm Bill. We've got to find ways to reduce the regulatory burden," said Hoeven, who urged meeting attendees to provide input to his office.

Hoeven was on the conference committee that helped refine the final version of the last five-year bill, which provided more funding to the state than in the past and included a strengthened crop insurance program.

New Farm Bill priorities will include making sure enhancements to the crop insurance programs work and trying to get as many Conservation Reserve Program acres dedicated for North Dakota as possible, Hoeven said.

Related Topics: KEVIN CRAMERHEIDI HEITKAMP
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