U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, today applauded news that American agriculture exports are predicted to reach record highs this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that agriculture exports for fiscal year 2013 are projected to be a record-breaking $143.5 billion, with a trade surplus of $26.5 billion. Agriculture supports 16 million jobs nationwide and nearly one-in-four jobs in Michigan.
"Record-setting exports show once again just how important agriculture is to America's economy" said Stabenow. "Agriculture is an area where we actually have a trade surplus and is helping to drive our economic recovery. This again makes clear how absolutely critical it is that Congress pass a full five-year Farm Bill to help farmers, ranchers and small businesses keep growing our agriculture economy."
While overall exports remain high, many individual farmers and livestock producers continue to struggle from extreme drought, spring deep freeze and other weather disasters across the country. Stabenow noted that passing a Farm Bill would provide much-needed disaster assistance to struggling farmers and ranchers.
"While it is certainly good news that total exports since last fall remain high, we must not forget that many individual farmers and ranchers are suffering this season. Passing a Farm Bill would provide disaster relief to ensure that farming families - and countless agriculture jobs - are not wiped out by weather," Stabenow said.
The Senate passed Sen. Stabenow's 2012 Farm Bill by a strong bipartisan vote of 64-35. Her Farm Bill contains additional disaster support for farmers impacted by severe weather this year and strengthened crop insurance to protect farmers from disaster in future years. It also includes relief for livestock producers, expands crop insurance for specialty crops, strengthens conservation efforts to help mitigate future disasters, and provides increased access to crop insurance for beginning farmers and ranchers.
National media outlets have called Stabenow's Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, also known as the Farm Bill, the most significant reform to agriculture programs in decades. The bill ends payments to farmers for crops they don't grow and streamlines programs to cut $23 billion in spending while strengthening initiatives that help Michigan farmers and agriculture businesses create jobs.