WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – the first Ohioan to serve on the Agriculture Committee in over 40 years – this week urged Governor George “Sonny” Perdue, President Trump’s nominee to serve as the Secretary of Agriculture, to protect the farm safety net that protects Ohio farmers from periods of low prices or yields.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, Brown worked with his Republican colleague Senator John Thune to make sure the bill included the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program which is particularly important for Ohio’s wheat, corn and soybean producers. ARC is a market-based program that relies on current crop-year data, market prices, and actual yields, making payments to farmers only when they face price or yield losses.

“One in seven jobs in my state depends on agriculture – that’s why I’m on this Committee. I need to know that farmers can depend on you. I want to know that you will work with us and use your authority to make sure that we can work with you to find ways to carry out the Ag Risk Coverage program and help us with short term assistance for dairy farmers.”

Brown also asked Perdue whether he would protect funding for opioid addiction saying: “There are 200,000 Ohioans that are getting opioid addiction treatment that are on the Affordable Care Act. If that insurance is taken away as it would be with the House bill, would you go back to OMB and the White House to protect funding used in the battle against opioid addiction in rural Ohio and rural America?”

USDA has helped in the fight against opioids through its Rural Development grant programs, like the Community Facilities Program—which helps rural communities expand local resources like medical facilities and public safety services. Brown supported a strong Rural Development title in the 2014 Farm Bill to provide economic support to rural communities. 

Just this week, Brown introduced bipartisan legislation to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) keep the deadly synthetic opioid, fentanyl, out of the country. Brown’s bill, the INTERDICT Act, would provide CBP with additional high-tech screening equipment and lab resources to detect fentanyl before it enters the U.S. According to a report from the Ohio Department of Health, fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Ohio more than doubled from 503 in 2014 to 1,155 in 2015.