Senate passes farm bill that now awaits President’s signature

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the bipartisan Farm Bill  — the Federal Agriculture Act of 2014 — by a vote of 68-32. The bill represents rare bipartisan agreement on legislation that would boost a major sector of the U.S. economy and create jobs across the country.

“This day has been a long time coming as farmers from all corners of Ohio have spent years tirelessly advocating for a new farm bill to ensure a safety-net is in place for those years we are faced with circumstances far beyond our control. I join my fellow farmers in thanking Ohio’s congressional delegation who supported a bill to help protect one of Ohio’s greatest resources, our agriculture industry, which helps to maintain the most secure and affordable food supply in all of the world,” said Brent Hostetler, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association president. “Time and again Ohio’s farmers have told us that crop insurance is one of the most important tools they can use to help preserve their farm’s future. It is very encouraging to see our legislative leaders recognize the significance of crop insurance and protect and strengthen the program in this farm bill.”

The bill also represents a spirit of compromise.

“With a bill that affects every person in the state, it certainly required a great deal of compromise and will never be a perfect product,” Hostetler said. “It seems compromise has become a dirty word in our country and we are thankful that the majority in Congress were able to put their personal beliefs and partisan ideals aside and pass a farm bill that will benefit all Ohioans.”

The 2014 Farm Bill, which reduces the deficit by $23 billion and represents the most significant reform of American agriculture policy in decades, was approved by the House last week and will now head to the president for his signature.

“Many people said this would never happen in this environment, but Congress has come together to pass a major bipartisan jobs bill.  Congress has also passed a major reform and deficit reduction bill.  Both bills are the 2014 Farm Bill,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “This effort proves that by working across party lines, we can save taxpayer money and create smart policies that lay the foundation for a stronger economy.”

The bill represents significant changes in farm policy.

“This is not your father’s Farm Bill. It’s a new direction for American agriculture policy.  Major reforms will be implemented and direct payments will finally come to an end.  The bill supports the transition Americans are already making to a healthier, more locally based food system. This is also one of the largest investments in land and water conservation we’ve made in many years,” Stabenow said. “And we were able to protect food assistance for families in need of support, while finding savings solely by focusing on fraud and misuse.

“This bill truly touches every American – from the food we eat, to the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The Farm Bill, formally titled the Agricultural Act of 2014, reforms food and agricultural policy by eliminating direct payments and other subsidy programs that pay farmers every year whether they need it or not. The bill instead provides responsible risk management tools for farmers that support farmers only when there is need, such as a weather disaster. This transformation provides the bulk of the Farm Bill’s deficit reduction. The Farm Bill also streamlines and consolidates programs to end duplication and make programs more efficient. These reforms allow for the strengthening of key initiatives that help farmers and small businesses reach new markets and create American jobs. The bill makes historic investments in conservation, bioenergy production, research, local and healthy food initiatives, organics and maintains critical food assistance for families in need.

Enacting the Agricultural Act of 2014 will reform agriculture programs, reduce the deficit, and help farmers, ranchers and business owners grow the economy. The legislation:

• Repeals the direct payment program and strengthens risk management tools

• Repeals outdated programs and consolidates duplicative ones, eliminating nearly 100 programs or authorizations

• Helps farmers and ranchers create jobs and provides certainty for the 16 million Americans working in agriculture

• Strengthens conservation efforts to protect land, water and wildlife for future generations

• Maintains food assistance for families while addressing fraud and misuse in SNAP.

• Reduces the deficit by $23 billion

•Ends direct payments, strengthens risk management.

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