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.
Joe is honored to be a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, where he serves as the ranking member of the Commodities, Markets, Risk Management, and Trade Subcommittee. He also serves on the Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee and the Livestock, Marketing, and Agriculture Security Subcommittee.
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:
- Encouraging participation in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) with Sen. John Thune (R-SD).
- Supporting bipartisan legislation to expand access to land for recreational fishing and hunting, while also advancing land and water conservation efforts.
- Sponsoring a bill to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, continuing and strengthening efforts to conserve parks, lands, and wildlife habitat of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.