Agriculture is vitally important both to Indiana and the United States, and Indiana in particular is blessed with an abundance of farmland. From corn, soybeans, and tomatoes, to pork and cattle, Hoosier farmers are growing the resources that drive our economy, strengthen our local communities, and provide the food we eat. Each day, thousands of Hoosier family farmers carry on Indiana’s rich agricultural heritage.
As a member of the Ag Committee, Joe has continuously voted for and supported agriculture policies that benefit farmers, promote rural economic development, and help produce a safe and reliable food supply. He was especially honored to be named a “Friend of Farm Bureau” for his work advocating for the agriculture community during the 113th Congress.
Waters of the United States (WOTUS)
In April 2015, Joe and Sen. John Barasso (R-WY) led a bipartisan group of senators in introducing the Federal Water Quality Protection Act, legislation to address the EPA’s and the Army Corps of Engineers’ attempt to rework the definition of the Waters of the United States. The bill would require the EPA to consult with interested stakeholders like farmers, ranchers, and conservation districts before moving forward with a rule. It would also require the EPA to propose a rule within some common sense guidelines that will ensure the rule protects and promotes clean water, without over burdening those working the land.
Joe knows that no one wants cleaner water or better land conditions than the families who live on American farms. That is why he thinks it is incredibly important that the EPA rewrite the Waters of the United States rule with input from the people who live and work on the land and alongside these waters every day—something they failed to do the first time. Read more about their bill here.
Joe had long-advocated for the certainty of a five-year farm bill for our ag community, which is why he was pleased when the House and Senate finally passed a bipartisan, five-year bill in February 2014. He worked to include several provisions in the final bill that are beneficial to Indiana, such as:
Expanding crop insurance coverage for crops grown for feedstocks to produce biofuels, electricity, or biobased products;
Improving the process of setting conservation technical assistance funding levels by giving the Department of Agriculture, not the Office of Management and Budget, the authority to set the levels;
Establishing a pilot program to allow canned or frozen fruits and vegetables to participate in school snack programs; and
Protecting full planting flexibility by eliminating any permanent base reduction for planting fruits or vegetables.
Prohibiting the EPA from requiring Clean Water Act permits for storm water runoff associated with timber harvesting, nursery operations, pest control, reforestation and logging road use, construction and maintenance.
After fighting for passage of the farm bill, Joe has refocused his efforts to ensure that the legislation is implemented effectively and that the Indiana agriculture community knows exactly what programs are impacted and how it could affect them.
Joe is a strong supporter of conservation efforts to help farmers and other landowners to preserve our land for years to come. Some of his efforts include:
U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack urging USDA to grant a disaster declaration for an additional 8 Indiana counties impacted by excessive rainfall. Read More
U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today introduced a resolution supporting the "International Year of Soils" and locally-led soil and water conservation efforts. Read More
As the debate over the Waters of the US continues, Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly expressed frustration over burdensome regulations during a hearing earlier today.
Donnelly questions where the regulations will end. "Our farmers feel they work non-stop every single day to voluntarily to make our waters cleaner and to make things better," he says. “All we hear is more government regulation. I think what's happened is those actions have lost the confidence of our ag community.”
During the hearing, Donnelly told Natural Resources Conservation Services Chief Jason Weller that farmers are frustrated. “It’s the feeling our farmers have when they look up and go 'my government is supposed to be my partner, not my adversary’,” he says.
Weller says he hears the frustration, too, in his home state of California. “Farmers there, more than anywhere, are actually very heavily regulated,” he says. “Whether it is for air, for wildlife, or for water. I understand both the palpable frustration and the bottom line business costs that regulation creates. It’s also the perception elsewhere in the country.”
Donnelly says the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the NRCS need to work more effectively with the agricultural community to fix WOTUS without burdensome regulations. Read More
Yesterday, Senator Joe Donnelly joined Senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Maria Cantwell of Washington, and Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota at a press conference to voice his support for restoring the lapsed Biodiesel Tax Credit and to call on the Obama Administration to revise its proposal for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in 2014. Read More