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Senate Approves Farm Bill, Major Reforms with Broad Bipartisan Support

 

June 12 - The U.S. Senate has voted to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, a bipartisan Farm Bill authored by Senator Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Ranking Member Senator Thad Cochran. The bill was approved with broad bipartisan support by a vote of 66-27. The bill, which saves taxpayers more than $24 billion, represents the most significant reform of American agriculture policy in decades.

The bill reforms food and agricultural policy by eliminating direct payments and transitioning to responsible risk management tools for farmers, saving billions of dollars. The Farm Bill also consolidates programs to end duplication and addresses fraud and misuse in nutrition programs. These reforms allow for the strengthening of key initiatives that help farmers and small businesses reach new markets and create American jobs.

“The Senate today voted to support 16 million American jobs, to save taxpayers billions and to implement the most significant reforms to agriculture programs in decades,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “By eliminating duplication and streamlining programs, we were able to save $24 billion while strengthening initiatives that help farmers and small businesses reach new markets. This bill proves that by working across party lines, we can save taxpayer money and create smart policies that lay the foundation for a stronger economy.”

Stabenow continued, “I want to thank my Ranking Member Senator Thad Cochran for his leadership and commitment to bipartisan partnership, and all my colleagues in the Senate for voting on behalf of the 16 million American jobs that rely on a robust, innovative agriculture sector. I look forward to continuing to work in a collaborative and bipartisan way to see that this reform bill is signed into law.  There can be no more kicking the can down the road — it’s time for Congress to finish its work on the Farm Bill.”

To view a copy of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, please visit the Senate Agriculture Committee website at www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill. A section-by-section summary of the bill is also available as well. A short summary of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act is below.

The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013

The Senate’s bipartisan 2013 Farm Bill represents the most significant reform of American agriculture policy in decades. With the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, the era of direct payments is over. Instead of subsidies that pay out every year even in good times, the bill creates risk management tools that support farmers when they are negatively impacted by weather disaster or market events beyond their control. By ending unnecessary subsidies, streamlining and consolidating programs and cracking down on abuse, the bill reduces the deficit by billions. Passing the Farm Bill will yield a total of $23 billion in cuts to agriculture programs (including cuts made due to the sequester). $23 billion is over double the amount the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission ($10 billion) and Gang of Six ($11 billion) recommended in total agriculture cuts.

Agriculture is a bright spot in America’s economy. The Senate’s 2013 Farm Bill strengthens top priorities that help farmers, ranchers and small business owners create jobs. The current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30. A new Farm Bill must be passed this year to provide farmers the certainty they need to keep driving our economic recovery.

Sixteen million jobs hang in the balance. Last year’s similar Senate Farm Bill passed the Senate with a wide bipartisan vote, 64-35. The Farm Bill is broadly supported by Democrats and Republicans across the country for its major reforms, common sense deficit reduction and strengthened job creation initiatives.

Major Reform: Ending Direct Payments; Creating Responsible Risk Management

Farmers face unique risks unlike other businesses. Weather and market conditions outside a producer’s control can have devastating effects. Responsible risk management tools help ensure that farmers – and farm jobs – are not wiped out by disasters, and protect all American families from sudden spikes in food prices.

However, for too long farm programs have existed as subsidies that provide payments even when farmers are already doing well. The 2013 Senate Farm Bill reforms farm programs to save taxpayer dollars, while providing farmers with a responsible risk management system that only helps farmers when they experience substantial losses due to events beyond their control. This proposal:

Consolidating and Streamlining Programs

By eliminating duplicative programs, funds are concentrated in the areas in which they will have the greatest impact, reducing the deficit while strengthening top priorities. The Senate Farm Bill eliminates more than 100 programs and authorizations under the Agriculture Committee’s jurisdiction.  For example:

Improving Program Accountability

At a time when many out-of-work Americans are in need of food assistance for the first time in their lives, it is more critical than ever that every dollar go to families in need. By closing loopholes, cracking down on abuse and improving program integrity, the Farm Bill reduces the deficit without cutting standard benefits or removing any needy family from the program. The Senate Farm Bill increases accountability in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by:

Continuing Growth in America’s Diverse Agricultural Economy

The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act increases efficiency and accountability, saving tens of billions of dollars overall, while still strengthening agricultural jobs initiatives through:


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