Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus is gearing up to fight for Montana priorities as Congress prepares to finalize the Farm Bill. Last week, the House named its conferees to the joint Conference Committee on the Farm Bill, which will combine the Senate and House bills and pave the way for a final piece of legislation that can be signed into law.
As a chief architect of the Senate's job-creating, debt-cutting Farm Bill, Baucus was appointed to serve on the conference committee in August.
Baucus is one of only 12 members of the Senate appointed to the joint Conference Committee tasked with combining the House and Senate Farm Bills and sees it as a prime opportunity to secure Montana priorities he's led the charge to protect, such as permanent Livestock Disaster Assistance and a strong safety net that works for wheat growers.
"I'm looking forward to getting this important job done because one in five Montana jobs depends on agriculture. There's a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about creating jobs and cutting debt - the Farm Bill is our jobs bill in Montana and we cannot afford any more delays. I'm looking forward to hearing from Montanans next week and making sure their voices are heard as we work to finalize the Farm Bill," Baucus said.
Baucus will kick off his Farm Bill Jobs Tour next week by spending the day working on the fall harvest at a wheat and corn farm in Fort Benton. Baucus' signature workdays give him the opportunity to work alongside Montanans while hearing what they're most concerned about. The Fort Benton farm workday will be Senator Baucus' 97th.
Baucus' Farm Bill Jobs Tour will also include roundtable discussions with producers and Ag-business owners in Fort Benton, Lewistown, Billings and Bozeman. The conversations follow up on multiple listening sessions he's held statewide over the last two years to help guide his work writing and leading the charge to pass the Senate's Farm Bill.
Baucus helped pass a 5-year Farm Bill with permanent Livestock Disaster Assistance through the Senate in June. Baucus blasted the House for passing only a partial bill. Baucus will fight for the Committee to produce a complete, long-term Farm Bill, like the Senate version, that Montana farmers and ranchers can count on. The Senate version of the Farm bill will support 16 million jobs nationwide and cuts spending by about $24 billion.
Additional priorities Baucus will fight for in the final bill include:
Support for veterans pursuing jobs in farming .
Support for timber jobs by combating bark beetle and healthy forests.
Continuation of the sugar program, which supports Montana sugar growers and refinery jobs.
More background on the Livestock Disaster Assistance Program:
Last year, Montana ranchers suffered the worst drought in more than 50 years.
Baucus created the Livestock Disaster Assistance Program in the 2008 Farm Bill. But it expired in 2011 and was unable to be extended with other short-term farm programs at the end of 2012 because it was separate from the rest of the Farm Bill. Baucus' provision in the Senate Farm Bill backfills the Livestock Disaster Program to ensure Montana ranchers can get the support they need to recover from last year's drought. It also makes the program a permanent part of the Farm Bill, so Montana ranchers will never again find themselves left out and having to ask Congress for assistance on an ad hoc basis.
Additional information on the livestock disaster programs is available HERE.
The last Farm Bill expired September 2012. Last year, Baucus helped usher a five-year Farm Bill (S. 2340) through the Senate with overwhelming, bipartisan support on June 21, 2012. Unfortunately, the House failed to take action on the bill before the end of the year, forcing a short-term extension. That extension expired in September 2013.