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Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. STABENOW. Mr. President, as we come to our vote now on cloture on the bill--what we have dubbed the farm bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act--I first wish to thank my ranking member, the distinguished Senator from Mississippi, for a wonderful working relationship as we have moved to this point. He and his staff have been working diligently, as has my staff. We are proud of all of our staffs, who I think are terrific and have done a wonderful job to get us to this point.

I wish to remind my colleagues that the vote we are about to take affects 16 million jobs. I have said that so many times, but it is important to say again. I do not think there will be a single bill on this floor that affects more jobs for Americans than the one on which we are about to vote--16 million jobs in America. That is how many people depend on agriculture and the food industry for their jobs. They are watching us today. They are hoping that once again this body on a bipartisan basis will do what is right and provide the leadership to move this bill forward.

This particular bill includes 38 amendments that were passed on the floor during our debate last year, as we considered 73 amendments just a few months ago, and another 14 amendments that we added to the bill this year. So I appreciate the input colleagues have had to make this a strong farm bill with major reforms and real deficit reduction. This is an opportunity to cut spending by more than $24 billion. We in Agriculture have done more than any other part of the Federal budget to not only meet what are the across-the-board sequester numbers but provide deficit reduction that is four times more than that while streamlining and providing effective policy for agriculture, conservation, nutrition, and the other parts of this bill.

So we are not only standing with 16 million people whose jobs depend on agriculture, we are doing it in a responsible way that cuts the deficit. We are eliminating direct payments, moving toward a market-based risk management system for our farmers. We are strengthening conservation to protect our soil and water resources for generations to come, with a streamlined conservation title and a new historic agreement between conservation and farm groups. We are focusing on beginning farmers to get more people into farming. We all have a stake in making sure that happens.

We are helping our veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan to get started in agriculture as well. I am very proud of this portion of the bill which will reach out to those coming home, most from small communities around our country, to help them be able to get started in farming and keep us with the most affordable, most abundant, and safest food supply in the world.

Agriculture is truly one of the brightest spots of our economy. It is one of the few areas in which we actually have a trade surplus. The policies in this legislation are a big part of that. That is why more than 100 groups representing agriculture, conservation, nutrition, and every part of the economy represented by this bill have called on the Senate this morning to vote yes on cloture.

I would ask unanimous consent that the full text of the letter we received be printed in the Record.


Ms. STABENOW. I would ask colleagues once again to come together and vote yes on the 16 million jobs that agriculture and the food industry support. I would ask colleagues to vote yes on major reforms. We have eliminated over 100 authorizations and programs that were duplicative, did not work anymore, and were not the right thing to do from a taxpayer standpoint. We have consolidated in a way that has not been done, I would argue, for decades in this area of policy. We have reduced the deficit by more than the last bill--$24 billion.

I would ask colleagues to come together to keep this bill moving and to keep agriculture growing our economy and creating jobs.


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