New Farm Bill supports conservation, specialty crops, commodities
The House of Representatives yesterday passed the seven-month overdue Farm Bill by a 318-106 vote. Congressman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who voted for the bill, released the following statement:
"The bill establishes a new Agriculture Water Enhancement Program to help producers achieve water quality goals and address water quantity concerns. The legislation builds on previous efforts to recognize some of the finest stewards of the land - Oregon's farmers and ranchers. The bill reauthorizes the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), increases funding for the Conservation Security Program (CSP), and increases funding for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by $3.4 billion while streamlining the evaluation process for EQIP applications."
"The legislation the House passed provides a much-needed shift in focus from corn-based ethanol to cellulosic ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol holds tremendous potential not only for a smarter, more independent American energy future, but also for the health of our forests as well. The Farm Bill creates a new program to help agriculture producers and rural small businesses purchase renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.
"Oregon is known for its wide variety of specialty crops, yet past Farm Bills have done little to address the issues these fruit and produce growers face. For the first time in any national farm policy, this Farm Bill provides a significant commitment to specialty crops by making a serious investment in important research, pest and disease management, trade assistance and nutrition programs.
"This legislation expands focuses on improving the diets of our school children by expanding the school fruit and vegetable snack program nationwide. It's good for farmers and good for encouraging healthy eating habits for millions of children.
"This measure beefs up our research programs which are so important to overcoming the threats of disease and pests. It seems like in every meeting with farmers and ranchers, I hear about new challenges to American farmers from insects, disease and invasive species taking over natural habitat. Our best hope of overcoming these threats is to make this serious investment in our research scientists."
"Farmers across the state continue to tell me that although prices for their commodities are high, there's more risk and volatility involved in farming than we've ever seen before as the cost of farm inputs continue to rise. The price of a bushel may be high, but so is everything else that is required to produce that same bushel, from the machinery to the fuel to the fertilizer.
"That meant it was even more important for Northwest growers that we readjusted the target prices and loan rates used to calculate programs such as the Counter Cyclical Payment for wheat and barley so that the programs will work in the future for farmers in the Pacific Northwest, like similar programs have worked for growers of corn and cotton.
"Because the trigger prices were set too low in the prior Farm Bill, Oregon's wheat producers only benefited from one of the three commodity support programs, the Direct Payment. The adjustments made in this bill will hopefully give our growers equity among commodities grown throughout the country and provide Oregon's grain producers with a true safety net when prices fall."