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Pickering Votes in Support of Farm Bill

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Mississippi agriculture industry will benefit greatly

­ Today, the Conference Report on The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (HR 2419) passed with a vote of 318-106 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Conference Report would expand food security programs, protect our vital natural resources, and reform commodity and biofuel programs to reflect the priorities of the nation.

"I am pleased to support the 2008 Farm Bill," Pickering said. "This legislation is essential to meet the growing needs of our farmers, ranchers, and commodity groups in Mississippi, and our whole
country. Food safety and security, health and nutrition, animal and crop
disease, enhancing community growth and production, and preserving our environment are all top priorities in the agriculture industry. This
conference report will bolster advancements in those areas."

The 2008 Farm Bill:

· Extends and expands the Milk Income Loss Contract Program
· Modifies Wetland Pilot Program to include catfish ponds
· Authorized $1.3 Billion for new enrollment in Wetland Reserve
· Establishes Softwood Lumber Importer Declaration Program, civil penalties apply
· Allows equine ranchers to be eligible for FSA emergency loans
· Healthy Forests adds permanent easements as an option- $9M per year for FY09-12
· Creates Emergency Forest Restoration Program to help family timber farms after disasters
· Establishes mandatory, continuous USDA inspection for domestic and imported catfish and voluntary-fee based grading program
· Addresses use of mandatory arbitration in poultry and livestock production contracts to allow producers, prior to entering contract, to decline to be bound by such clause

Mississippi Benefits include:

Rural Development
· Reforms Rural Broadband by creating incentives to increase access to hi-speed providers in rural, un-served areas
· Increases authorization of Circuit Rider Program to $25M
· Extends authorization of grants to finance water well systems and increases the cap on the amount that can be spent on each well from $8K to $11K
· Reauthorizes Delta Regional
Authority to include two new Mississippi counties: Jasper and Smith
· Reauthorizes expansion of 911 areas ­ allowing the Secretary to
make telephone loans to state or local governments, tribes, or other public
entities for expansion of 911 access and integrated emergency communication in rural areas

· Provides $1 billion to fund programs that will help the renewable energy industry invest in new technologies that use a variety of sources beyond feed grains
· Reauthorizes federal procurement of biobased products and adds development of guidelines and labeling
· $320M for development and construction of commercial
advanced biofuel plants
· $250M for loans, loan guarantees, and grants for ag producers to purchase and install on-farm renewable energy systems
· $118M for cellulosic ethanol research and establishes a
Forest Bioenergy program to address the use of woody biomass
· Adjusts Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Bioenergy Program to give incentives for increased use of all commodities and ag/forest waste for expanded production of advanced biofuels - $300M
· Creates Biomass Crop Assistance for incentives for producers to establish and grow cellulosic crops
· Reauthorizes Biodiesel Fuel Ed Program

"Mississippi will benefit greatly from the rural development and energy
funding in the Farm Bill. Rural development loans and grants support our rural areas, counties and small towns," Pickering concluded.

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