Agriculture

115th Congress

  • Led Letter Stressing Economic Benefits of NAFTA: Fischer, along with Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), led a letter from 18 senators to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stressing the positive economic impact of NAFTA as the administration considers taking a fresh look at the agreement. A signed copy of the letter is available here.

  • Introduced Senate Resolution Against “WOTUS”: Senator Fischer joined Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to introduce a Sense of the Senate expressing the need to vacate the Obama administration’s “Waters of the United States” or WOTUS rule. The resolution signified the senator’s intent to continue working to undo the harmful rule. Since introducing this resolution, President Trump signed an executive order to begin the process to withdraw the WOTUS rule altogether.

  • Expanding the Market for Biofuels: With Senators Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senator Fischer introduced the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. The legislation would extend the Reid vapor pressure (RVP) waiver regarding gasoline blended with ethanol above 10 percent to year-round. Doing so would increase market access opportunities for higher blends of ethanol. It would also allow retailers across the country to sell E15 and other higher-ethanol/gasoline fuel blends year-round, increasing regulatory certainty and eliminating confusion at the pump.
  • Welcomed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to Cherry County for Roundtable with Nebraska Ranchers: On May 20, 2017, Senator Fischer welcomed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to Cherry County, Nebraska. At the Fischers’ Sunny Slope Ranch south of Valentine, Senator Fischer and Secretary Perdue led a roundtable discussion with area ranchers where they heard about the challenges these ag producers face as they work to feed the world. Fischer invited Secretary Perdue to visit Nebraska earlier in the year. Click here to view photos from Secretary Perdue’s visit.
  • Continued Efforts to Address EPA Rule Affecting Ag Producers with On-Farm Fuel Storage: Senator Fischer reintroduced the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act to provide regulatory relief for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers. A regulation intended for major oil refineries, known as the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule, would force agriculture producers to make costly upgrades to fuel storage tanks and impose heavy fines if their tanks go over the on-farm fuel limit exemption mandated by the federal government. The FUELS Act builds on Senator Fischer’s past efforts to modify these costly EPA regulations that could negatively affect families with on-farm fuel storage.
  • Highlighted Importance of South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) to Nebraska: Senator Fischer penned a letter to President Donald Trump urging him not to terminate the KORUS free trade agreement. South Korea is an important trading partner for Nebraska’s agricultural products and a major market for Nebraska pork, corn, ethanol, beef, and wheat. Nebraska’s trade relationship with South Korea contributes greatly to the prosperity of Nebraska’s farm and livestock families.
  • A Nebraskan to the USDA Following Fischer’s Recommendation: Senator Fischer recommended former Nebraska Director of Agriculture, Greg Ibach, to President Trump to serve as the Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). President Trump followed through on her recommendation and nominated Ibach for the position. In October 2017, the Senate unanimously confirmed Ibach to serve as Under Secretary at USDA. 

114th Congress

  • Nebraska Supplying the First U.S. Beef to Israel in Over a Decade: Senator Fischer worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on a historic agreement to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports to Israel. The first shipments to Israel will come from the WR Reserve plant in Hastings, Nebraska.

  • Restored Fairness and Reduced Burdens for Ag Producers: The five-year highway bill, which was signed into law in December 2015, included important provisions that benefit Nebraska ag producers. The bill reverses $3 billion in cuts to the crop insurance program that were initially included in the two-year budget agreement. Another provision in the bill reduces the regulatory burdens on producers by allowing them to transport up to 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel freely. 

  • Launched effort to protect Nebraskans from duplicative pesticide rules: Senator Fischer helped introduce a bill known as the Sensible Environmental Protection Act (SEPA). The legislation would clarify the intent of current federal regulations that are causing unnecessary burdens for Nebraska’s food producers, Natural Resource Districts, weed control agencies, and other pest management personnel. 

  • Objected to Inaccurate Guidelines That Would Harm Nebraska Agriculture: Senator Fischer joined 29 of her colleagues in objecting to a report on food guidelines that advises Americans to decrease consumption of red meat. In a letter to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the senators condemned the report’s conclusions, which ignore relevant scientific evidence on nutrition.
  • Brought the EPW Committee to Lincoln for a Field Hearing on the WOTUS Rule: In March 2015, Senator Fischer chaired a hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee in Lincoln. The hearing was focused on the impact of the proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, which would have expanded federal regulation of water across Nebraska. Fischer examined the views of a diverse group of stakeholders, including representatives from the agriculture community, homebuilders, natural resource districts, and state and local governments. 
  • Introduced Bill to Provide Producers with Limited Exemption from EPA Rule Affecting On-Farm Fuel Storage: The bill, known as the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act, would modify costly EPA regulations that could negatively affect farmers and ranchers with on-farm fuel storage. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, joined Senator Fischer as an original cosponsor of the legislation.

  • Voted in favor of a bipartisan compromise to stop a biotechnology labeling requirement: On July 1, 2016, a Vermont state law went into effect, imposing burdens on Nebraska's agriculture community after it became the national standard by default. To stop the harmful effects of this mandate, Senator Fischer supported a bipartisan compromise to replace the Vermont law with a new national standard. Congress passed the compromise bill. 

  • Introduced Bipartisan Legislation to Roll Back Harmful OSHA Standards Burdening Farmers: Senator Fischer joined Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) to introduce the Fertilizer Access and Responsible Management (FARM) Act. The bill would stop a federal standard from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regarding anhydrous ammonia, a fertilizer and critical input used by farmers across the country.

  • Negotiated Bipartisan Compromise For On-Farm Fuel Storage in Water Infrastructure Bill: The U.S. Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016. The bill will help ensure safe and reliable water infrastructure for communities in Nebraska and across the country. It also includes a bipartisan provision, negotiated by Senator Fischer, which would modify costly EPA regulations that could negatively affect agriculture producers with on-farm fuel storage. 

113th Congress

  • Supported a Five-Year Farm Bill: Senator Fischer voted in favor of the five-year farm bill, S. 954.  The legislation provides a safety net for America’s farmers through disaster assistance programs. It promotes environmental stewardship and encourages rural development; it bolsters export opportunities and advances cutting-edge research; and it helps new farmers and ranchers trying to start businesses of their own.
  • Supported Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Nebraska’s Drinking Water Supplies: Senator Fischer voted in favor of the Environment and Public Works Committee’s bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).  This important legislation establishes priorities for the Army Corps of Engineers to maintain navigable channels, reduce flood and storm damage, and restore aquatic ecosystems. The bill contains provisions to advance stalled flood control projects, including levee improvements essential to protect Nebraska’s metropolitan drinking water supplies.
  • Questioned the Furlough of USDA Meat Inspectors: On February 26, 2013, Senator Fischer sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting more information regarding the USDA’s plans to furlough meat and poultry inspectors. The letter, cosigned by eight other Republican senators, called into question comments by Secretary Vilsack suggesting that USDA must furlough inspection employees, regardless of statutory duties to provide health and safety inspections.
  • Introduced the Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship Act: Senator Fischer introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) to provide regulatory relief for farmers impacted by EPA’s Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule.  The Farmers Undertake Environmental Land Stewardship (FUELS) Act would exempt farms from SPCC requirements if their aggregate oil storage capacity is 10,000 gallons or less and the farms have no history of spills. In addition, the bill would increase the oil storage threshold to determine whether a professional engineer must certify a facility’s SPCC plan.  A version of Fischer’s bill was adopted in the form of an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act, which was approved by the Senate.
  • Held EPA Accountable for Violating the Privacy of Farmers and Ranchers: Senator Fischer cosponsored legislation, the Farmer Identity Protection Act, to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from disclosing the private information of farmers and ranchers. In addition, Senator Fischer and several colleagues wrote to EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe questioning the agency’s decision to release personal and confidential business information of Nebraskans. In response to a FOIA request for information related to concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) from environmental groups, EPA released comprehensive data providing the precise locations of CAFOs, the animal type and number of head, as well as the personal contact information, including the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of CAFO owners.
  • Pushed for Drought Research and Modernization Tools: On April 26, 2013, Senator Fischer sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies to urge support for drought mitigation funding. The letter encouraged support for critical applied research focused on drought, drought planning, preparedness, and modernization.
  • Cosponsored the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act of 2013: This legislation clarifies that veterinarians may transport, administer, and dispense controlled substances outside of their registered locations.  Mobile veterinary care is essential to meeting the health and welfare needs of many animals, as well as to safeguard public safety and the nation’s food supply.
  • Cosponsored the Endangered Species Act (ESA) Settlement Reform ActThis legislation, introduced by Senator Cornyn, will give impacted local parties a say in the settlement of ESA litigation between special interest groups and the Fish and Wildlife Service.