Letter to Harry Reid, Majority Leader, and Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader - Six Months After the Senate Passed a Bipartisan Jobs Bill, The House Has Failed to Act

U.S. Senator Tim Johnson today voiced his support for including the farm bill in any end-of-the year legislation. In a letter to Senate leadership, Johnson and a bipartisan group of Senators highlighted the $23 billion in deficit reduction in the Senate-passed farm bill.

"The Senate-passed farm bill gives producers long-term certainty and provides necessary assistance to producers affected by this year's devastating drought. Not only that, but our bill actually reduces the deficit and can help fiscal cliff negotiators meet their goals," said Johnson. "The House has shown no interest in considering a farm bill on their own, so we need to find a way for them to act before the end of the year. South Dakota farmers and ranchers deserve the certainty of a five-year farm bill."

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:

Last June, the Senate came together and passed a strong bipartisan farm bill that would help producers manage risk, create jobs and reduce the deficit and debt. It was not an easy task, but members from both sides of the aisle came together and passed farm policies that cut the deficit by over $23 billion while making smart, common-sense reforms that ensure the farm safety net works for both the American taxpayer and the American agricultural producer.

Our country's farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, and they need strong farm policies to ensure they can continue providing our nation with a safe and reliable food source. Thankfully, the 2008 farm bill coverage for most programs extends throughout the 2012 crop year. But as the 2012 harvest rolls to an end, farmers and ranchers are already working with their bankers to plan for the 2013 crop. In many parts of the United States, they have already seeded their 2013 winter wheat.

Agriculture supports over 16 million jobs in our country and is the heart of many rural economies across the United States. In order for our farmers and ranchers to plan for their future, it is imperative that we provide them the certainty of a full five-year farm bill. While our farmers produce a domestic supply of food, fiber and fuel, American agricultural products also contribute to a trade surplus. Just this year, the U.S Department of Agriculture reported that agriculture exports for fiscal year 2013 are projected to reach a record of $143 billion in 2013, resulting in an agricultural trade surplus of over $26 billion.

While the increase in agriculture exports is welcomed news, our producers are still struggling from the extreme drought, spring deep freeze, and other weather disasters across the country this past season. To date, 2,196 counties are currently under primary USDA drought disaster designations. As the historic drought conditions persist, farmers could suffer from the impacts of the drought in the 2013 crop year as well. Congress has serious challenges to meet before the end of the year; however, including the farm bill can help us cut the debt and create jobs.

With each passing day, the difficulty of enacting a farm bill before the end of this Congress grows. Congress must do the responsible thing and pass a full, five year reform farm bill. Accordingly, we urge you to consider folding in the Senate's strong bipartisan bill in any end-of-year package.

American farmers and ranchers put affordable food on our tables, bring in dollars from around the globe with their world-class products, and continue in our strong agricultural tradition. These are some of the hardest workers in the United States, and it is our turn to show them Washington is fighting for rural America.

Sincerely,

Senator Max Baucus

Senator John Hoeven

Senator Al Franken

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Senator Mike Johanns

Senator Michael Bennet

Senator Ron Wyden

Senator Barbara Mikulski

Senator Tim Johnson

Senator Richard Lugar

Senator Tom Udall

Senator Daniel Coats

Senator Claire McCaskill

Senator Chris Coons

Senator Kent Conrad

Senator Jerry Moran

Senator Herb Kohl

Senator Pat Leahy

Senator Robert P. Casey Jr.

Senator Ben Nelson

Senator Jeff Merkley

Senator Sherrod Brown

Senator Mark Udall

Senator Jon Tester

Senator John Kerry

Senator Chuck Grassley

Senator Joe Lieberman

Senator Tom Harkin

Senator Olympia Snowe

Senator Benjamin Cardin

Senator Mark Begich

Senator John Thune

Senator Susan Collins