Senator John Hoeven today spoke on the Senate floor to urge support for the bipartisan, cost-effective farm bill developed by the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, on which he serves. The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act will provide $23 billion in deficit reduction, streamline farm programs and ensure that farmers and ranchers have a strong support through enhanced crop insurance.
"Our farmers and ranchers today provide the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world," Hoeven said. "And not only do they provide the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, they supply the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the history of the world. That's vitally important to every single American."
Hoeven also said producers provide a tremendous number of jobs, contributing billions to the national economy. Agriculture, he said, has a positive balance of trade, and produces a financial surplus for the nation.
Good farm policy is important from a national security perspective as well, he said. "Think about the national security implications if we had to depend on other countries for our food supply, countries that don't necessarily share our interests or values."
A Cost-effective Farm Bill
Hoeven also underscored the bill's cost-effectiveness. "It's not only cost-effective, but provides real savings to help reduce the deficit and debt," he said. The 2012 farm bill provides $23 billion in savings, $15 billion from farm programs and $6 billion from conservation programs. That represents a 10 percent reduction, he said.
At the same time, the portion dedicated to farm programs is a small share of federal expenditures, accounting for $20 billion in a $3.7 trillion budget. Hoeven illustrated the point with a chart featuring a cornfield, an ear of corn, and a kernel of corn.
"If you think of the total federal budget as this cornfield, then the portion that goes to the farm bill would be similar to this ear of corn. The portion that actually goes to farmers and ranchers would be one kernel of corn out of the entire field,"
A Strong, Cost-effective Safety Net for Producers
Hoeven also underscored that the farm bill provides the kind of market-based risk management tools farmers and ranchers need. "One of the key things we tried to do is figure out how we could help farmers and ranchers insure at higher levels, but still at an affordable price," said Hoeven.
The legislation enhances crop insurance with the inclusion of the Supplemental Coverage Option. The SCO enables producers to purchase a supplemental policy beyond their individual farm-based policy.
In addition, the bill features a new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program that covers assistance for multiple-year losses. The program works with crop insurance by covering between 11 and 21 percent of a producer's historic five-year average revenues based on price and yield.
In closing, Hoeven said the new farm bill "continues to support our farmers and ranchers, so they can continue to produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply for every American," Hoeven said. "This is something that's important to every single American. We worked together in a great bipartisan way in committee and I ask that we work in a great bipartisan way here on the Senate floor."
The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 Summary
The new farm bill, which Senator Hoeven helped draft, would:
* Provide $23 billion in savings for deficit reduction, $15 million from farm programs and $6 billion from conservation programs.
* Preserve and Enhance Crop Insurance for improved risk management.
* Introduce a new, voluntary Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program to help producers manage losses.
* Reauthorize the no-net cost Sugar Program for five years.
* Continue Livestock Assistance programs through 2017 to help ranchers who lose livestock due to weather-related disasters.
* Establish a strong agriculture-based Energy Title, advanced in an amendment cosponsored by Senator Hoeven, that would provide funding for renewable energy, including cellulosic ethanol and blender pumps.
* Fund Agriculture research programs critical to land grant universities like North Dakota State University.
* Provide assistance to the Devils Lake basin through a voluntary land purchase program.