Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a senior member and former Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate approved the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, the 2012 farm bill, by a vote of 64-35. This is the eighth farm bill Senator Harkin has worked on since becoming a member of Congress.
"This legislation is a sound, balanced, and bipartisan bill crafted under difficult political and budget circumstances. I commend Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts for all of their efforts to usher this bill through the Senate.
"I am particularly encouraged that the 2012 farm bill continues vital programs and adopts important reforms, such as ending direct payments and replacing them with a revenue protection program containing key features of the revenue program I was pleased to include in the 2008 farm bill. Replacing the direct payments with a more effective and more responsible farm income system is a reform I have long advocated and am very pleased to see adopted in this bill.
"I am also very pleased that the bill continues, improves, and strengthens a number of initiatives that we included in previous farm bills to assist and promote opportunities for farmers and good nutrition for consumers through farmers markets and increased local production and marketing of food.
"The bill reflects compromises, though, and I regret that it reduces funding for farm conservation programs and nutrition assistance to low-income Americans. Those spending reductions are the consequence of our present federal budget circumstances. We must take care not to deny essential federal support and investments in our nation's priorities in food, agriculture, conservation, energy, and rural economic development."