U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today voted to approve a farm bill that supports New Mexico's agriculture industry, conservation efforts and several key food programs. The bill passed 64-35 and was sent to the House of Representatives.
Agriculture is a more than $3 billion industry in New Mexico. Our state has more than 21,000 farm operations, with our top commodities being dairy, beef cattle and crops (which include pecans and hay, among others).
This legislation, called the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs bill of 2012, supports our agriculture industry by strengthening crop insurance programs to help farmers in unproductive years. It also helps farmers protect lands and conserve water.
"Agriculture is a major part of New Mexico's history and economy. This legislation lends strong support to our state's farmers, and I am glad it is one of the few major bills we've been able to get through the Senate this year," Bingaman said.
The bill reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which serves approximately 179,000 New Mexico households annually. It also extends Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations program, which provides assistance to more than 2,600 Native American families in New Mexico. And it reauthorizes and better funds The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which provides millions of dollars annually to New Mexico's food banks.
"In these difficult economic times, it is especially important to support initiatives that give New Mexicans access to nutritious food," Bingaman said.