Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) made the following statement after the Senate passed the 2012 Farm Bill with a strong bipartisan vote of 64-35.
"This Farm Bill is a step forward for farmers in Minnesota and across the country, and it's fiscally responsible," said Sen. Franken. "I'm proud that our farmers are doing their part to address the deficit by eliminating direct payments, but I'm also pleased that we passed a strong safety net - in the form of crop insurance subsidies - to protect producers when a bad year hits.
"This bill preserves the sugar program that supports jobs all over the state, provides funding to help beginning farmers, and encourages conservation. I'm most proud of an energy provision I wrote - the Rural Energy for America Program - which provides grants and loans to Minnesota farmers and rural communities for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. This is a great bill, and I'm proud of the way farmers and farm groups came together to help us pass this important piece of legislation. I'm very happy that we got this done with such strong bipartisan support, and I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to move quickly and pass it."
Earlier this year, Sen. Franken and his staff held a series of Farm Bill Outreach meetings with farmers all over the state to learn what Minnesota's agriculture community needed from the 2012 Farm Bill. The legislation passed today includes a provision introduced by Sen. Franken earlier this year, which reauthorizes the REAP program, which helps agriculture producers and businesses in rural areas invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects so they can cut energy bills and earn additional income by selling the energy they produce.