WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Donald Trump on Thursday evening signed H.R. 4689, legislation championed by Congressman Adrian Smith (NE-03) and U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) to rollback outdated regulations negatively affecting ag producers in the Nebraska panhandle. The bill passed the House of Representatives in September and the Senate in December.
“This law will provide much-needed regulatory relief to producers in the Northport Irrigation District by allowing them to repay their share of long-term infrastructure loans, rather than paying only interest in perpetuity. I greatly appreciate Senator Fischer’s efforts to ensure its passage in the Senate in order to provide certainty when our farmers and ranchers need it most,” said Congressman Smith.
“Outdated and burdensome barriers have created challenges and frustrations for Nebraska farmers in the panhandle for too long. I thank Congressman Smith for his steady partnership on this effort to address this issue. Now that this important policy has been signed into law, farmers will be able to increase productivity, access more land, and continue to lead the Good Life,” said Senator Fischer, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“I thank Congressman Smith and Senator Fischer for their hard work in getting this bill signed into law,” said ag producer and land owner George Hall of Bridgeport. “It will allow our families to keep and pass down the land we have farmed and lived on for many years to future generations.”
Since 1952, Northport Irrigation District has been paralyzed under an outdated construction contract loan with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). This contract has prevented members of the district from making payments on their portion of the overall debt and limited their ability to expand their farms and businesses.
Under current law, BOR has no statutory authority to allow individual landowners to repay their portion of the debt. Because of this, landowners are limited to only 960 acres per individual. This is an outdated requirement for modern day farms and farming practices.
H.R. 4689, introduced by Rep. Smith and strongly supported by Senator Fischer, will allow farmers within Northport Irrigation Districts to repay the BOR for the capital construction cost of the project ahead of schedule.