U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition Committee, today joined with farmers, business owners and agriculture groups from Michigan and around the country to urge the House of Representatives to pass a Farm Bill. Participants in the "Farm Bill Now!" rally in front of the U.S. Capitol called on the House to pass a full five-year Farm Bill before the current bill expires on September 30.
The Senate passed Sen. Stabenow's 2012 Farm Bill by a strong bipartisan vote in June. The Farm Bill provides critical disaster relief to farmers and ranchers impacted by this year's freeze and drought, helps farmers and agriculture businesses create jobs, and cuts $23 billion in unnecessary spending.
Chairwoman Stabenow said: "The Senate passed a bipartisan Farm Bill that achieved major reform months ago. Now the House needs to pass a Farm Bill to help provide economic certainty for our farmers and ranchers and critically needed disaster assistance. Michigan's farmers know that when there is work to be done on the farm, you can't put it off for another day. The House of Representatives shouldn't put off its work for another day either."
Ken Nobis, President of Michigan Milk Producers Association said: "I applaud Senator Stabenow for her leadership in reducing the deficit while bringing much needed reforms. Dairy is Michigan's top agricultural commodity, and U.S. dairy exports have more than doubled in the last seven years. It's critical that the House of Representatives follow the Senate's lead and pass Senator Stabenow's Farm Bill now. The Farm Bill gives Michigan dairy farmers the tools we need to meet the increasing global demand while at the same time assuring U.S. consumers an abundant supply of milk."
Phil Korson, President of the Cherry Marketing Institute, said: "There's no question it's been a tough season for cherry growers, with many losing over 90 percent of their crop. Thanks to Chairwoman Stabenow's tenacious leadership, the Farm Bill provides cherry growers with short-term assistance to help families and farming communities get through the year, and better crop insurance options that will help protect our growers, so ad-hoc disaster relief isn't needed in future years. It's time for the House to follow the Senate's lead and pass a five-year Farm Bill immediately before it's too late."
Diane Smith, Executive Director of Michigan Apple Committee, said: "The Michigan Apple Industry is so thankful for the important work Chairwoman Stabenow has done in building the Farm Bill in a way that supports Michigan's economy and agriculture. In today's economic climate, and considering this season's crop losses, the 2012 Farm Bill is even more critical to the survival and growth of Michigan's agriculture industry."
The House of Representatives has not taken action on the Farm Bill, despite the Senate acting months ago and the House Agriculture Committee passing a bipartisan bill out of committee. The current Farm Bill expires September 30. If the current Farm Bill expires, America will automatically return to depression-era agriculture policy, an antiquated patchwork of costly subsidies and price controls. This would create a tremendous amount of uncertainty for farming families, and over the coming months would begin to cause major disruptions throughout Michigan agriculture, the second largest sector of the state's economy.
The Senate passed Sen. Stabenow's 2012 Farm Bill by a strong bipartisan vote of 64-35. Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic Leader, and Sen. Mitch McConnel, the Republican Leader, both praised the bipartisan nature of the bill, with McConnell saying on the day of the vote that it was "a very fine day in the recent history of the Senate."
Stabenow's 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.