Senate Farm Bill Includes Reforms, Wins Accolades
Washington (Jan. 16, 2008)—Most priorities championed during the writing of the new farm bill received funding increases.
There was more money for conservation, for nutrition programs and for renewable energy priorities. There was additional funding for research, the marketing of fruits and vegetables and even pest and disease eradication.
Only one group with an interest in the Senate farm bill received a funding cut-farmers.
Despite increased funding for other initiatives and budget reductions to the safety net, agricultural producers realized that reforms were necessary. That’s why they accepted these substantial reforms in both the House and Senate farm bills, even though those reforms meant funding cuts.
Nearly every major farm group in the country applauded the Senate for passing the farm bill-just like they applauded the House of Representatives for its bill.
“The farm bill benefits all Americans with important programs for nutrition, conservation, energy security and support for rural communities,” explained American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman.
National Farmers Union President Tom Buis echoed the praise. “Past experience has taught us that any farm bill will work during good price years but is really needed during times of low prices,” he said. “The Senate farm bill will see farmers through the good and the bad.”
However, farmers have expressed concern over talks by some to deepen these cuts as Congress reconciles the two bills and slash farm programs to the point that the farm safety net no longer works. They have also opposed efforts to put the farm bill process on hold in favor of a one or two year extension of current law.
Instead, growers are rallying around the House and Senate farm bills and urging Congress to quickly send a bill to the White House to be signed into law.
“Based upon the exceptional work of both the House and the Senate, we are confident that a strong new Farm Bill can be approved by Congress and signed into law by the President early next year,” farm groups wrote in a December letter(pdf) to Congress.
The expedited timeline is essential so producers have some certainty about a long term farm safety net as they begin making financial decisions for the upcoming year and prepare to head into the field, explained the 33 organizations that signed the letter.
When the Senate returns to town on Jan. 22, the two chambers are expected to continue discussions about reconciling the House and Senate versions of the farm bill.