Gianforte Votes for Farm Bill, Secures Forest Management Reforms
WASHINGTON – Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte today voted for the 2018 Farm Bill, addressing the critical needs of Montana farmers and ranchers. The bill improves how federal forests are managed and reforms the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, to return able-bodied recipients without young children to the workforce.
“I’ve listened to Montana farmers and ranchers since last year, and worked on their behalf on the new Farm Bill. I’m proud to vote today for the Farm Bill that has Montana’s fingerprints on it,” Gianforte said.
“The Farm Bill strengthens the safety net for Montana farmers and ranchers, provides them with greater certainty, improves the health of our forests, and gets Montanans back to work,” Gianforte said.
The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorizes and strengthens the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage options through 2023. The legislation also authorizes the innovative National Animal Health Vaccine Bank to prioritize federal resources for Foot-and-Mouth Disease preparedness.
“Montana’s farmers and ranchers feed the world, but international markets and weather can bring uncertainty. That’s why the new Farm Bill improves the commodity and crop insurance policies as well as the Foreign Market Access Program of the last Farm Bill. These programs work, and the new Farm Bill strengthens them,” Gianforte said.
The Farm Bill also provides needed reforms to improve management of Montana’s federal forests. It gives the U.S. Forest Service the tools they need to reduce fuel loads, create healthier forests, and reduce the severity of wildfires.
“The forest management reforms in the Farm Bill build upon what we accomplished earlier this year,” Gianforte said. “Since the Senate hasn’t considered the Resilient Federal Forests Act, which passed the House nearly seven months ago, we’re taking a piecemeal approach to get us managing our forests again.”
Gianforte provided two amendments which were approved and passed in the final bill. One extends Good Neighbor Authority to county governments. Currently, only state governments can enter into agreements to perform forest management services on National Forest System lands. Gianforte’s amendment allows the U.S. Forest Service to enter into agreements with county governments. The National Association of Counties supported this amendment.
Gianforte’s other amendment allows for expedited salvage operations for dead and dying trees in areas burned by wildfire. It also requires reforestation of at least 75 percent of the burned area. This measure was included in the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act, which Gianforte sponsored and which passed the House in November 2017. The bill awaits action in the Senate after nearly seven months.
“Importantly, the economy is growing, and there are 6.7 million jobs open across United State. The Farm Bill reforms the food stamp program to get work-capable adults without young children off the sidelines and back in the workforce. The reforms also ensure these folks have the tools and skills they need to succeed.”
The Farm Bill includes a strict 20-hour per week work requirement for able-bodied adults, who are under 60 and with no small children. The work requirement does not apply to seniors, individuals with disabilities, children, or pregnant women. The Farm Bill guarantees access to job training programs for recipients required to work. No recipients will lose benefits. Individuals who choose not to work or utilize guaranteed job training, will make themselves ineligible for SNAP benefits.
Results from states show that work requirements work. Kansas and Maine implemented work requirements, and recipients returned to the workforce, finding employment in over 600 industries, including construction, manufacturing, and nursing. Upon returning to work, their incomes more than doubled. Further, the work requirements cut in half the time recipients received SNAP benefits.