The following are condensed from press releases and compiled by Sidney Herald staff.
U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte led efforts to convince the U.S. House of Representatives to unanimously pass a measure to ensure the Sidney and Kinsey Irrigation Districts continue receiving affordable power that enables irrigation. “This critical legislation ensures many family farms in Eastern Montana have access to reliable irrigation, and I look forward to President Trump signing it into law,” Gianforte said. “Agriculture is Montana’s top industry, and I’ll continue working hard to protect it.”
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester blasted the USDA in a letter to Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Richard Fordyce for delaying payments to Montana farmers for more than a year and demanded answers about when Montanans could expect payments. Following an aggressive push, Sen. Tester sought to secure answers for Northeastern Montana farmers who have waited nearly a year for disaster relief for last year’s quality losses. Fordyce announced the FSA will soon provide details about how they can apply for relief. “Better late than never, but when it comes to providing relief to Northeastern Montana farmers who have been waiting nearly a year for FSA to get its act together, this is unacceptable,” said Tester. “I shouldn’t have to hold FSA’s feet to the fire just to get them to follow the law and do right by folks in production ag, but you better believe I’m keeping the coals hot and ready so Montana farmers don’t get left out in the cold. Disaster relief needs to make it into the pockets of these producers immediately — no more delays.”
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas, re-introduced the “Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act,” which will protect conservation easements from abuse, save taxpayers billions of dollars, and promote conservation in Montana and the United States. “This is about promoting conservation in Montana, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and stopping scam artists from abusing a critical conservation program used across the country,” Daines said. “I will fight to pass this important legislation and protect Montana farmers and ranchers who are guided by a good-faith desire to boost conservation, not their own wallets.”
U.S. Rep. Gianforte and U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) celebrated the successful structure completion of Drop 2 and Drop 5 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the junction of the St. Mary’s diversion and the Milk River. “This is really fabulous that water is flowing through the Milk River project, flowing life back to the Hi-Line. This project is so important because over 100,000 acres irrigated out of the Milk River, five communities, and two Tribal governments rely on it for their domestic water,” Gianforte said. “When it failed in May, people weren’t sure their faucets were going to work anymore. It got fixed because of collaboration, and we’re here to celebrate that.”
U.S. Sen. Tester demanded that the House and Senate Armed Services committees ensure that his bipartisan Seeding Rural Resilience Act — which would provide tools to rural communities to prevent suicide — is included as part of the final must-pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). “It is essential that Congress support folks in production agriculture, especially as they face uncertainty due to weather, trade, and COVID-19,” wrote Tester. “While this bill is not a silver bullet in solving the mental health crisis in rural America, it provides important investments for the well-being of folks in farm country. We need to ensure that producers have the resources they need to weather this storm so that they can continue to do what they do best — feeding the world.”
U.S. Sen. Daines issued a statement following President Trump’s signing of the “Savanna’s Act” and the “Not Invisible Act.” The laws provide support to Montana tribal communities to fight against the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis. “I’m grateful for the President’s leadership fighting to protect Montana’s tribal communities by signing Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act into law,” Daines said. “Sadly, Montana’s tribes are far too familiar with stories such as Savanna’s, and this law is critical to protecting some of our most vulnerable Montanans in our tribal communities.”
U.S. Sen. Tester‘s Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act was signed into law by President Donald Trump. “This is a historic day for veterans across the country who will now have better access to life-saving mental health services,” said Tester. “This new law combines the best ideas from veterans, Veterans Service Organizations, the VA, and mental health care advocates to deliver innovative solutions that’ll help heal invisible wounds of war through increased access to care, alternate therapies and local treatment options. I couldn’t be prouder to have worked alongside the Hannon family and Chairman Moran to successfully push for this monumental bill to become law. Together, we are following through on our commitment to supporting our nation’s heroes, making sure that no veteran falls through the cracks.”