FARM, NUTRITION, AND BIOENERGY ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - December 14, 2007)
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Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, by passing the farm bill today, the Senate took an important step towards renewing our Nation's commitment to helping our farming communities and strengthening Rural America's involvement in our Nation's energy future.
This legislation provides robust new funding for conservation, nutrition, specialty crops, and rural development. It authorizes hundreds of millions of dollars in renewable energy initiatives to be undertaken by family farmers working to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It maintains a strong safety net for those farmers for the next 5 years. It creates a new permanent disaster assistance program so that farmers need not rely on the unpredictability of Congress to approve emergency funding. And it includes important provisions to increase market transparency for livestock producers in the meat processing industry.
I am especially proud that this legislation contains my proposal to ensure that thousands of African-American farmers will have an opportunity to have their discrimination claims reviewed under the Pigford settlement. For far too long, this country's hardworking black farmers were discriminated against by our own Government, and this legislation offers a chance for us to continue righting those wrongs.
There is a time to debate, and a time to act, and the timely completion of this farm bill is necessary so that farmers have the certainty they need to begin their preparations for the new crop year. Although the farm bill has many provisions to laud, I am disappointed in the failure of the Senate to enact stronger payment caps to ensure that assistance is better targeted to family farmers who need the help and away from big agribusinesses that often use these payments as a superfluous source of revenues. I am disappointed that interests in the crop insurance industry were successful in weakening an optional revenue insurance program authored by my distinguished colleague from Illinois, Senator Durbin, a forward-thinking and innovative pilot program designed to test a new kind of safety net mechanism for farmers.
I thank Senator Harkin for his leadership on this issue, and will continue to work with him to stand up for America's family farmers.
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