Last night, Representative Tim Walz voted in the U.S. House Agriculture Committee to bring the 2013, five-year Farm Bill to the House floor for consideration by the full chamber. The bill passed through committee with a bipartisan vote of 36 -- 10. Walz is the Ranking Member of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy and Forestry.
"I am pleased we're moving this bipartisan, five-year Farm Bill forward for a vote on the House floor," Walz said. "The Farm Bill affects and gives certainty to everyone. When long-term Agriculture policy is consistent, producers are able to plan for the future so they can grow the crops and livestock that allow regular folks like you and me to put food on the table, clothes on our backs, and fuel in our vehicles. Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor should bring this bipartisan bill forward for a vote without delay."
The Farm Bill sets Agriculture policy and gives producers the certainty they need to plan for the future; to hire workers, buy seed, and buy equipment. It also makes critical investments in readying the next generation of farmers and ranchers and in innovative research that can create new, clean-energy jobs right here at home.
If Congress fails to pass a new Farm Bill, Agriculture policy will revert back to 1949 policy which could lead to erratic, unpredictable prices at the grocery store ($8 gallon of milk) and be disastrous for farmers and all Americans.
Both the House and Senate must pass their respective versions of the Farm Bill then appoint Members of each chamber to a bipartisan, bicameral conference committee to work out the differences between the two bills. While Rep. Walz voted for the bipartisan bill today in committee, he voiced concerns with draconian cuts that could hit hardworking families struggling to get by. According for the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, nearly 72 percent of SNAP participants are families with children and more than one-quarter of participants are in households with seniors or people with disabilities.
"I'm especially concerned about the large cuts to SNAP, which helps hardworking families and seniors who are struggling to put food on the table. Americans don't want a handout, just a hand-up in times of need. I'm hopeful much of this funding will be restored in conference with the Senate," Walz said.
The Farm Bill that passed through committee last night includes many provisions Walz introduced after consulting directly with southern Minnesotans. These provisions will:
Make it easier for our youth to take up farming and ranching operations and agriculture entrepreneurship.
Increase energy access in rural America; improving efficiency and reducing input costs for farmers and small businesses.
Ensure farmers have the flexibility to grow a wide array of crops without penalty or fear of losing their insurance.
Save taxpayer dollars, conserve critical wildlife and hunting habitats, while still allowing farmers to manage their lands as they see fit.
Make the USDA more efficient by streamlining many programs to cut down on unnecessary paperwork and overly burdensome regulations for farmers.
Ease access to lines of credit so that farmers who want to expand their business have the tools necessary to do so.
Reform out-of-date dairy policy and strengthens crop insurance to protect tax payers while also making sure farmers won't literally lose the farm if disaster strikes.
Last year, both the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee passed a five-year Farm Bill only to see it blocked by Republican Leadership in the House. This year, Majority Leader Cantor has assured Members the House will consider the Farm Bill on the House Floor.