U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, today applauded Senate approval of the Farm Bill and called for swift House consideration to provide America's farmers, ranchers and consumers with certainty before the current law expires September 30th.
The Senate approved the bipartisan Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, S. 3240, also known as the Farm Bill, with a vote of 64-35. The House Agriculture Committee has yet to begin marking-up their version of the bill.
He released the following statement on the bill's passage:
"Farm Bills are not easy. Historically, we have had to overcome not only the usual partisan divide in Washington, but those along regional lines too. This is nothing new.
"For this Farm Bill however, we had the added difficulty of negotiating in a bad economy with out-of-control federal deficit spending.
"For months I have been criticizing the actions of the Administration for its damaging tax, regulatory and economic policies that have forced our businesses to sit on the sidelines waiting for stability and predictability to return to our economy before they invest and hire. I refuse to be a part of that.
"I decided to fight for a Farm Bill because the people of Kansas elected me to do everything in my power to fight for policies that provide stability, job creation and economic growth for the nation and for rural areas in particular.
"American agriculture and those who depend on it around the globe need a Farm Bill. They need to know what to expect from the federal government to make planning decisions, to be assured of a safe and affordable food supply, and to know that their businesses and families will have the opportunity to thrive. I take this responsibility seriously.
"So, under very difficult circumstances, I fought for a Farm Bill. I am proud to say this Farm Bill reforms farm programs and saves the taxpayer more than $23 billion.
"I fought for a Farm Bill to move our farm programs away from subsidies and toward a safety net that helps producers when they need assistance. We streamlined and eliminated programs where necessary. This bill is indeed reform and progress.
"I am pleased an amendment I supported (S. Amend. 2242), offered by Senator Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), was accepted to help rural communities like Dodge City qualify for USDA Rural Housing loans and grants that provide affordable housing for those in need.
"I worked hard to get critical, budget cutting amendments before the Senate for debate and a vote.
"I also supported key amendments to the nutrition title of the bill to close loopholes, cut administrative costs and further cut down on waste, fraud and abuse. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, and for the needy among us who depend on nutrition assistance, these amendments failed on a party line vote. Our work is not done on this front.
"Kansans are sick of a do nothing Congress. They want me to get results. No other committee has put forward mandatory spending reductions, and very few bills have passed the Senate with this level of bipartisan approval.
"Our work is not done. We can find more savings in farm programs, especially in nutrition spending. The House must act, and we must have something in place before current programs expire September 30. I will continue to do everything I can to avoid adding to the economic uncertainties our farmers, ranchers and rural communities have already been forced to face, so that we can get the federal government out of the way of job creation and our nation's economic recovery."
The committee approved bill received the endorsements of the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas Farm Bureau, the Kansas Farmers Union, the Kansas Corn Growers Association, Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers, Kansas Pork Producers, Kansas Soybean Association, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, the Kansas Livestock Association.
Senator Roberts has worked on three Farm Bills in the Senate, and four in the House as a Representative from Kansas' Big First Congressional District. He authored the 1996 Farm Bill as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.