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Public Statements

Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BROWN. Under the leadership of Chairman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran, the Senate has again passed a bipartisan deficit-reducing bill that will help our farms, our families, our economy, and our environment.

The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 is a good start to cultivating a new era of prosperity in our country and reinvesting in rural America. That is because this bill benefits all Americans, especially in my home State of Ohio.

One in seven jobs in Ohio, in places such as Custar and Defiance, is related to food and agriculture. To keep our economy growing, the farm bill must remain a priority here in Congress. We have shown the Senate can do its part.

To people who are uncertain about our ability to work across the aisle, I say look at this farm bill. To people who are concerned about spending in Washington, I say look at this farm bill. To people who are disheartened about our ability to help low-income families make ends meet, I say look at this farm bill.

This bill saves more than $24 billion, and it maintains important investments in conservation, nutrition, renewable energy, and rural development. Farmers across Ohio and across the country tell us they want a leaner, more efficient, and market-oriented farm safety net. Taxpayers deserve that too.

By eliminating direct payments, linking crop insurance to conservation compliance, and by further reforming our risk management programs, the Senate has taken that first step.

Every farmer knows the importance of building on last season's work. Last year, Senators Thune, Durbin, Lugar--the predecessor--the Presiding Officer, and I proposed the Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management Program, streamlining the farmer safety net, making it more market-oriented. The Agricultural Risk Coverage Program included in this bill gives farmers the tools they need to mitigate risks, ensuring that payments happen only when farmers need them most. The program relies on current data and, as a result, is more responsive to farmers' needs and more responsive to taxpayers.

It also includes a provision to help Ohio farmers and producers sell their products directly to consumers. It will make a world of difference to families and schools that want to eat locally grown food. I appreciate the efforts, interest, and support of Senator Cochran in those efforts.

However, this bill does not include my food and agriculture market development amendment, cosponsored by 14 of my colleagues, to provide needed funding to several important programs that support the development of a stronger, more sustainable food system. We will work on that in the House.

By aligning our agricultural, health, and economic policies in ways that ensure farmers get a fair price for their product, all Americans can have access to affordable, healthy food, while contributing to strong communities and thriving local economies.

The farm bill affects every American every day. It is a deficit reduction bill. It is a jobs bill, conservation bill, rural development bill, and it is bipartisan.

I commend again Senator Stabenow and Senator Cochran for their work in crafting this bill, and their joint effort to work across party lines is to be commended.


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