In an effort to help farmers across Minnesota who are facing uncertainty because a new Farm Bill hasn't been passed by the House of Representatives, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) today urged Senate leadership to include the bipartisan, Senate-passed Farm Bill in any deal brokered to address the nation's fiscal challenges.
"Minnesota's farmers, livestock producers, and rural entrepreneurs support one in five jobs in our state, and they need a new Farm Bill so they can plan for next year," said Sen. Franken. "The Senate has passed a comprehensive Farm Bill that will give our farmers the stability they need, but the House simply hasn't taken action. As we work to address our nation's fiscal challenges, it's critical to remember that our farmers need a new Farm Bill-that's why I urged Senate leadership to make passing this legislation a top priority."
Earlier this year, the Senate passed a comprehensive Farm Bill that cuts billions of dollars in spending and includes a number of provisions written by Sen. Franken. The House of Representatives has not yet taken up the Senate's Farm Bill, and farmers across the country have said that, if Congress fails to pass a new bill, it will have dire implications for the nation's agriculture economy.
Earlier this year, Sen. Franken and his staff held a series of Farm Bill outreach meetings with farmers all over the state to learn what Minnesota's agriculture community needed from the 2012 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill passed by the Senate includes a provision introduced by Sen. Franken that reauthorizes the REAP program, which helps agriculture producers and businesses in rural areas invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects so they can cut energy bills and earn additional income by selling the energy they produce.
The full text of Sen. Franken's letter is below.
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
As you work with the White House and the House of Representatives to address our nation's fiscal challenges, I respectfully urge you to include the deficit reducing five-year Farm Bill as part of these important discussions.
The bipartisan Farm Bill passed by the Senate is a fiscally responsible piece of legislation that will reduce spending by $23 billion over the next ten years. This was achieved by eliminating direct payments to farmers and by lowering spending on a number of other important Farm Bill programs. The House Agriculture Committee has also approved a five-year bill with substantial savings.
Current authorities for agriculture risk management, conservation, nutrition, and other critical programs such as dairy security are expiring. Drought mitigation measures, which are critically needed given the historic drought our nation has been facing, have already expired. Overall, American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States. In my state of Minnesota, agriculture supports 1 in 5 jobs. Failing to address these challenges will prevent farmers from adequately planning for future crops, will negatively impact millions of jobs across the country, and will have an adverse impact on the affordability and security of food for millions more.
As you continue to work toward a workable and responsible solution to our nation's fiscal problems, I believe that a solution ought to include a five-year Farm Bill that has strong bipartisan support.
United States Senator