U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) praised the United States Senate on Thursday's passage of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 -- known as the farm bill -- by a broad bipartisan majority of 64-35. Senator Coons supported the bipartisan legislation, which will protect the 16 million American jobs supported by agriculture and reduce our deficit by $23 billion by eliminating unnecessary direct payment subsidies, consolidating programs to end duplication, and cracking down on food assistance abuse.
"The farm bill proves that when we work together across party lines, we can create and save jobs and responsibly reduce the deficit," Senator Coons said. "I was proud to vote for legislation that protects the 30,000 agriculture jobs in Delaware and gives farmers the certainty they need to keep producing safe, healthy, delicious food for all of our families to eat."
The final version of the farm bill approved by the Senate contained an amendment offered by Senator Coons and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The bipartisan Coons-Chambliss amendment commissions a pair of studies on the feasibility of insurance programs to protect America's poultry growers from catastrophic loss, such as disease outbreaks, and from bankruptcies of poultry integrators. It was added to the underlying bill by unanimous consent. Agriculture contributes $8 billion a year to Delaware's economy.
"Poultry growers and integrators play an important role in our local, regional, and national economies," Senator Coons said. "The studies we proposed in our amendment would explore whether insurance programs make sense as a tool for helping our poultry farmers and integrators continue to thrive during uncertain economic times. The number of factors that can have a catastrophic impact on our economy but are beyond the control of our local farmers and integrators is rising, and I'm glad our amendment was passed by the Senate so we can begin exploring solutions to this problem."
This farm bill invests in several successful jobs programs, including:
Identifying export opportunities to help farmers find new global markets for their goods.
Helping family farmers to sell locally, increasing support for farmers' markets and spurring the creation of food hubs to connect farmers to schools and other community-based organizations.
Providing training and access to capital to make it easier for new farmers to get off the ground.
Supporting initiatives to help American veterans start agriculture businesses.
Spurring growth in bio-based manufacturing and innovation in bio-energy production.