By KOLR10 Newsroom & CNN
The U.S. Senate passed legislation Monday, in a 66-27 vote, that sets agricultural policy and funding levels for food stamps.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the farm bill, known as the "Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013" will cost taxpayers $500 billion over the next 10 years.
"The passage of the Senate bill is an important step in the right direction to give farm families in Missouri and nationwide much-needed economic certainty," said Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who serves as the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. "This bill provides a strong safety net for farmers of all Missouri commodities, and it extends critical livestock disaster programs for farm families who are still recovering from recent natural disasters."
"Just as we did last year, the Senate has passed a Farm Bill that saves taxpayers money, reduces our deficit, and provides Missouri's farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to plan for the future," write Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). "It will once again head to the U.S. House, where they can either fail rural America by refusing to act-just as they did last year-or they can approve this crucial, bipartisan measure, and provide a needed boost to the cornerstone of Missouri's economy."
McCaskill says the Farm Bill:
Will save $24 billion over 10 years, slightly more than the $23 billion in savings included in the 2012 Farm Bill
Ends the wasteful direct payments program, in which farmers received payments even when prices were high, often for crops they weren't even growing
Contains dairy programs that will help Missouri dairy farmers access additional resources in the face of rising input costs
Retroactively renews livestock disaster assistance programs to cover fiscal years 2012 through 2018, which will provide critical support in response to last summer's disastrous drought
"Considering that agriculture is Arkansas's top industry, passage of a farm bill is vital to our state's economic recovery," writes U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.) "Like any other business, Arkansas's agricultural producers need certainty to be able to make important planting, purchasing and hiring decisions. A five-year farm bill will give our family farmers and ranchers the confidence to move forward with those decisions, and in turn, create jobs and opportunities in our communities."
"We've made significant improvement from last year's one-size-fits-all solution," adds Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). "My bio-preferred provision within the bill ensures that timber farmers have a greater advantage in today's global marketplace. We've also inserted strong market protections for southern farmers, and kept the catfish inspection program intact so our food's safe and healthy. All in all, this is a win for Arkansas."
The legislation is now up for a vote in the U.S. House.