Sen. Smith fought for a spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee because ag is the backbone of Minnesota’s economy.
All Minnesotans are impacted by the Farm Bill, and Sen. Smith heard from Minnesotans with backgrounds in farming, rural development, rural health, and nutrition to make sure that all voices were reflected in the final 5-year bill that passed in 2018. That legislation included many provisions that Sen. Smith authored and championed, including improvement to the dairy safety-net program, the legislative roadmap for the energy title, and improvement to USDA conservation programs. It also included many provisions that benefit Minnesota’s native communities and new American communities, like permanent funding for beginning and traditionally under-served farmer outreach programs.
Sen. Smith understands that it’s been a very difficult few years for agriculture, and she believes that the federal government should be giving farmers more support. She’s heard from farmers about the high cost of health care, including access to health care providers and access to mental health care resources, which is why Senator Smith championed the creation of the rural health liaison at the USDA as well as funding for local mental health resources and to expand access to stress reduction and suicide prevention programs.
As Chair of the Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade she will advocate for provisions that benefit Minnesota farmers and use the platform to promote the importance of agriculture exports, which account for over 1/3 of Minnesota’s total exports. Additionally, she will push for more open foreign markets and strong crop insurance and commodity programs that help farmers in Minnesota and around the country manage uncertainties in the market.
You can learn more about Senator Smith’s efforts to make economic development in rural America a priority here.
U.S. Senator Tina Smith Introduces Bill to Root Out Discrimination and Increase Accountability For USDA Programs
WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.27.23] – This week, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced legislation to root out discrimination and increase accountability within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the important programs under its purview. A companion bill is being led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN). The USDA Equity Commission was authorized under the American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act with the intention of addressing systemic discrimination within USDA programs. The agency has a documented history of discriminatory practices against black farmers and farmers of color, denying them loans and access to federal programs. Earlier this year, the Commission released its first report, which included a number of recommendations. The Ensuring Accountability for Equity at USDA Act would make two of the recommendations law. “We have to acknowledge that the USDA has a history of institutionalized discrimination against farmers of color. That is the history and we cannot shy away from it,” said Sen. Smith. “I’m glad to see the recommendations outlined in the Equity Commission’s report and will work to make sure they are implemented through this legislation.” “Whether it’s farm program assistance or natural disaster relief, our federal agencies and their programs should be accessible to all Americans,” said Sen. Luján. “I’m proud to introduce the Ensuring Accountability for Equity at USDA Act to hold the USDA accountable by removing barriers to underserved communities and ensure equity across all USDA agencies and their programs. It’s critical to implement transparency
U.S. Senator Tina Smith Introduces Bill to Cut Red Tape, Help Families Access Nutritious Food, and Expand Markets for Farmers
WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.26.23] – This week, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and U.S. Representative Hillary Scholten (D-MI 3) introduced bicameral legislation to make it easier for families to use nutrition assistance at farmers markets by helping farmers participate in federal nutrition programs. Small and independent farmers are often unable to sell directly to customers using USDA food assistance programs at farmers markets and roadside stands. This is due to burdensome application processes to become vendors for those nutrition programs and the lack of harmonized payment processing technology and equipment. The Enabling Farmers to Benefit from Processing Nutrition Programs Act would address these issues and make it easier for farmers to participate as authorized vendors under various nutrition programs. By doing so, it also provides an opportunity to bolster the dignity of nutrition program customers. “Every family should be able to get nutritious, affordable food. Small farmers and ranchers are the lifeblood of Minnesota’s ag economy. We should be doing everything we can to help small farmers to be able to sell their products to those families, particularly in their local area,” said Sen. Smith. “By cutting red tape and providing necessary technology and equipment, this bill will make it easier for them to accept nutrition program benefits, thereby tapping into that market, while simultaneously helping folks using federal nutrition programs to access healthy, local food at farmers markets.” “West Michigan is known for its incredible fresh produce, and today I introduced legislation to ensure even more of our neighbors have
With Farm Bill on the Horizon, U.S. Senator Tina Smith Introduces Slate of Legislation to Help Farmers and Address Workforce Shortages
WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.20.23] – Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) introduced legislation to help address workforce shortages in farming and boost economic growth and development in rural communities. The bills are set to be included as part of this year’s Farm Bill, a package of legislation passed every five years that is critically important for farmers, rural communities, and the environment. Specifically, Smith’s legislation will help increase access to capital for under-served farmers, boost training and economic opportunity for beginner farmers, and help make land more affordable for historically disadvantaged farmers. “The Farm Bill touches the lives of virtually every
With New Farm Bill on the Horizon, U.S. Senator Tina Smith, Rep. Brad Finstad Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Invest in Ag’s Next Generation
WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.18.23] – This week, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced legislation investing in agriculture’s next generation. Despite the need for young people to get into farming, the reality is they face barriers like access to capital, rising farm land prices, difficulty getting operating loans, and a lack of opportunities for hands-on experience. The Agriculture Skills Preparation for Industry Recruitment Efforts (ASPIRE) Act, which was introduced in the House by Representative Brad Finstad (R-MN 1), would address some of these barriers to entry and make it easier for young farmers to join the workforce. “Agriculture
U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Todd Young Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Farmers, Combat Climate Change
WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.11.23] – Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Todd Young (R-IN) introduced bipartisan legislation that will help combat climate change and improve agricultural resilience and productivity. Experts estimate that American farmers could store up to 220 billion pounds of carbon annually across all US croplands. The Advancing Research on Agricultural Climate Impacts Act will bolster our understanding of soil carbon sequestration and help farmers enhance soil health, make their operations more resilient, and combat climate change. “Farmers in Minnesota don’t need to be told climate change is happening, they see it every year in the form of
WASHINGTON, D.C. [6.16.23] – Today, U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urging the Department to continue allowing non-fat and low-fat flavored milk in schools. The letter is in response to a proposed rule from the USDA that could limit flavored milk options in schools. However, school nutritionists have reported that dairy in the school meals is often the only or one of the only ways that many children consume nutrients like calcium and protein. “Each day during the academic year, over 15.5 million kids receive