U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today stressed the importance of the Senate moving toward consideration of the 2013 Farm Bill, which was approved by bipartisan committee vote on Tuesday.
Cochran is the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee that approved the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 on a 15-5 vote. The five-year legislation to reauthorize federal farm, nutrition, conservation and related programs is now available for debate by the full Senate.
"It is important to have a bipartisan approach for reauthorizing agriculture and nutrition programs. We are the most advanced agricultural nation in the world in terms of production, science and technology, and conservation. This legislation will touch virtually all aspects of life in our country and will play an important role in the future of our economy and U.S. trade," Cochran said following the committee mark up.
"Agriculture is still the most important economic activity for the Lower Mississippi Valley. So it makes it important for us in Mississippi to see that this important farm and nutrition law be reauthorized," he added.
Overall, the committee-approved Farm Bill is expected to reduce federal spending by approximately $24 billion over the next 10 years, much like similar legislation passed by the Senate last year. This year's measure, however, makes several changes to more fairly address the risks faced by agriculture producers in the South. It also makes reforms to the nutrition safety net for low-income Americans.
A key provision would create Adverse Market Protection, a price protection program that would aid rice and peanut growers and work in tandem with an Agriculture Risk Coverage program that is suited to crops like corn, wheat and soybeans. The Senate measure also authorizes a new cotton insurance program that will contribute $2.8 billion toward deficit reduction and lead to a resolution of the Brazil Cotton Dispute in the World Trade Organization.
At the start of Tuesday's committee action, Cochran looked to eventual enactment of a Farm Bill negotiated with his Senate colleagues and the House of Representatives. Federal farm and nutrition programs are currently operating under a short-term extension that expires Sept. 30.
"I think it is important that we move the bill through the Congress and to the President for his signature. Farmers and ranchers need the certainty that comes from a five-year Farm Bill. We have tried to be fair to those affected by this bill, as well as to those who pay the bill," Cochran said in his opening statement.
"We need to move the process forward, get to the Senate floor and negotiate ultimately with the House of Representatives in conference and resolve our differences. We hope the President will sign our bill. I think it deserves his support," he said.