U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said that reforming farm programs is a top priority for her as the Committee works to reduce the deficit while developing strong risk management tools for farmers. Chairwoman Stabenow's comments came during the final Farm Bill hearing before the committee will write a new Farm Bill, legislation passed every five years to set the nation's agriculture policy. The current Farm Bill expires this year. Since last year, the committee has held a total of 20 hearings.
"The country simply cannot afford to pay subsidies to farmers who are already doing well, or to pay farmers for crops they are not even growing," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "It's time for real reform. That's why the era of Direct Payment subsidies is over."
Stabenow said that farm policy should focus on risk management that only helps producers who have suffered a loss on the crops they actually grow. Stabenow said if farm subsidies that no longer made sense were cut, other risk management tools like crop insurance, which ensures that a few days of bad weather do not wipe out families or sink entire regions, could be strengthened while still reducing the deficit.
"By cutting subsidies for those that don't need them, we can strengthen protections for Michigan farmers who get hit with a disaster while still cutting the deficit by tens of billions. Every planting season, America's farmers take a huge gamble that their investment will pay off -- that the sun, the rain, and the markets will come together in just the right combination so they can make a living and support their families," Chairwoman Stabenow said. "One storm can wipe out an entire crop and jeopardize a farm in a matter of minutes - whether that crop is cherries in Michigan or wheat in Kansas - and farmers and our agriculture economy need to be protected. "
Today's hearing featured testimony from a range of farmers, commodity groups, and other stakeholders all calling for strengthening risk management tools to continue producing a safe and affordable national food supply.