McCaskill Supports Programs to Aid Agricultural Industry, Rural Communities
Late Friday, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill and her Senate colleagues passed the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, also known as the "Farm Bill", legislation vital to sustaining and growing Missouri's agricultural economy by supporting programs important to America's farmers and all Missourians. The five-year Farm Bill provides federal assistance to farmers and ranchers to protect them from facing falling prices, inclement weather, and increasing costs of production. The legislation also includes measures to promote open and fair competition, increase conservation and the production of alternative energy sources. Finally, the bill provides crucial food assistance through the Food Stamp program, and ensures food safety.
"Because farmers and ranchers make up one of the largest sectors of industry in Missouri, we need to do everything we can to ensure the stability and competitiveness of our agricultural economy," McCaskill said. "While I am disappointed that some of the reform measures I advocated for were not included in the legislation, I'm so pleased we were able to reach across the aisle and find a compromise that helps so many rural families and communities across America."
The $286 billion Farm Bill is divided into ten titles: producer income protection, conservation, trade, nutrition, credit, rural development, research, forestry, energy and livestock. Each title contains programs related to its subject matter. This legislation will work to address the needs of the agricultural community by:
- Including much needed reforms to payment subsidies. The legislation included some of the most significant reforms to payment subsidies in the history of farm legislation. By eliminating the ability for one producer to receive triple payments and reducing the overall cap for payments, the bill helps eliminate subsidies to multi-millionaires.
- Preserving a strong safety net for farmers. The legislation reauthorizes funding for agricultural subsidies, providing income protection for America's farmers and ranchers.
- Establishing a framework for increased production of renewable farm-based energy. The legislation aims to provide federal support to protect against financial risks for farmers who add biomass crops to their farming operations, as well as providing over a billion dollars for grants and loan guarantees for rural communities to go towards energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems to develop biorefineries for the production of biofuels and bioproducts.
- Protecting organic farmers and growers of specialty crops. The bill provides an expansion of grant subsidies for growers of specialty crops, funding for farmers looking to transition to organic production, as well as funding for the promotion of markets for organic products, such as farmers markets.
- Promoting and supporting good stewardship of land and water resources. The bill includes funding for conservation programs to protect and improve the quality of soil and water resources used by farmers and ranchers and allows ranchers and farmers to produce food, fuel, fiber and feed while maintaining clean water, air and wildlife habitats.
- Helping millions of Americans who currently live in the shadow of hunger. The legislation increases food assistance benefits available through the food stamp program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program for families struggling to put food on the table. Additionally, the Act will help connect millions of children through schools with fresh fruits and vegetables so important to good nutrition and overall health.
- Strengthening food safety. In light of recent E. Coli outbreaks and contaminated food recall, the bill establishes a bipartisan Congressional Food Safety Commission to review the current food safety system and make recommendations on how to better ensure the safety of food products.
With Senate passage, the bill will go to conference committee, where House and Senate negotiators will iron out differences between the two bills.