Farm Bill reported out of Conference Committee, Baucus declares victory on major Montana priorities
Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus today announced major progress on the Farm Bill as the joint Conference Committee released a final report paving the way for a full five year bill to be signed into law. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Baucus secured major victories for Montana in the bill, including permanent assistance for ranchers hit by drought and other disasters and a critical extension of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which supports schools, roads and essential emergency services in rural counties.
"This is our jobs bill and I'm proud we were able come together and move the Farm Bill out of the conference committee. The bill provides the certainty Montana farmers and ranchers need to continue putting food on tables across the globe" Baucus said. "I'm calling on the Congress to quickly send the bill to the President's desk so Montana farmers and ranchers aren't left high and dry when disaster strikes."
READ MORE ONLINE HERE: What Montanans Are Saying About Baucus' Farm Bill Compromise
Baucus, who has written 5 previous Farm Bills and is the only member of the Montana delegation on an Agriculture Committee, achieved historic Montana priorities in the conference report. These include:
Making Livestock Disaster Assistance Programs he created in 2008 permanent;
Making sure programs for farmers are designed in a way that works for Montana's large, rural counties;
Finding a responsible balance between cutting waste and protecting programs that feed Montana families in tough times;
Making sure the Forest Service has tools to fight Bark Beetle infestation and protect Montana timber jobs;
Preserving the state of Montana's management of logging roads;
Extension of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program;
Prevented a provision that would have weakened Country of Origin Labelling;
Removed provisions that would have eliminated market transparency and eliminated the enforcement of some Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Act (GIPSA) regulations.
Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT)
Senator Baucus achieved a 1-year extension of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). Without the extension of PILT, rural Montana would lose funding for schools, roads, search and rescue crews and other important county programs. Together with Secure Rural Schools (SRS), PILT brought nearly $50 million to Montana counties last year. In 2008, Baucus wrote and helped pass a provision making the PILT program mandatory. The move guaranteed the program would be fully funded through 2012. In 2012, Baucus successfully ushered another one year extension to the finish line. Without that extension rural Montana would have lost funding for schools, roads, search and rescue crews and other important county programs.
Country of Origin Labeling and GIPSA rules
Baucus also successfully removed provisions that would have limited Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) and GIPSA from protecting ranchers and consumers. The House version of the bill contained language that would prevent USDA from combating deceptive, fraudulent, and anticompetitive practices against livestock producers. Keeping that provision out of the bill and preserving the consumers' right to know the origin of their meat products were top priorities for Baucus.
"I'm proud to have fought back against provisions that would have gutted County-of-Origin Labelling and GIPSA in this Farm Bill. These policies ensure that both ranchers and consumers aren't given the short end of the stick," Baucus said.