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Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I rise in support of this very important bill.
First, I wish to thank Senator Stabenow for her leadership, as well as the Senator from Mississippi. It was a true bipartisan effort. As I heard her list all the names of these wonderful staff people who worked on this bill, I also wish to mention my staff director Adam Durand.
The other thing I wish to mention is this wouldn't have happened without Senator Stabenow, with her ever optimistic view, never giving up on this bill.
It has been 354 days since the Senate passed its last farm bill--I have been counting it down--and this is long overdue. This got done in record speed because we had gone through all of these issues, 70-something amendments, last time, and this time we were able to get the farm bill through the Agriculture Committee in record time--in 3 hours. Now it is on the floor, and I predict we will have strong bipartisan support.
You ask why. First of all, last year our country experienced the worst drought since 1956, costing the country tens of billions of dollars. In Minnesota 74 counties were eligible for disaster relief due to drought.
This year the late spring and wet conditions have prevented many farmers in my State from even getting their crop into the ground. Dairy farmers have been especially hurt because of the alfalfa shortage because of the rot because of the water.
We can't do anything about the weather, but we can make sure our country has a steady food supply and that we are not dependent on foreign food. How do we do that? By having a smart, fiscally sound farm bill.
I can tell you what we have is a bill that literally saves the taxpayers $24 billion in 10 years over the last farm bill. That is why it makes no sense for me to play a game of green light-red light and at the end of the year we are going to extend the last farm bill that is even more expensive, when we have a very smart farm bill here.
It matters in my State. My State is No. 1 in turkeys, sweet corn, green peas, and oats, No. 2 in spring wheat, No. 3 in hogs and soybeans, and No. 4 four in corn. But it is more than the crops and the sugar beets and the wheat. We don't just raise livestock. We don't just produce crops. We also produce the foods--milk at Land O'Lakes, the turkey at Jennie-O, the animal feed at Cargill, the Spam at Hormel.
When we look at this farm bill, we have to understand it involves not just our farmers--in fact, that is the smaller percentage of the farm bill than, say, the nutrition program--but it also involves our entire economy and how that all goes together from energy on down. What I like about this farm bill is it does connect these dots and makes sure we have a strong economy across the board, starting with our farmers, also including strong conservation efforts.
I see the Senator from North Dakota Ms. Heitkamp. She and I, along with Senator Hoeven, worked very hard to make sure there were strong provisions in this bill for the conservation efforts, which include our retention of water with floodings in the Fargo-Moorhead area, also making sure we had strong efforts for agriculture research, something everyone in our country cares about as we move forward.
We streamlined the conservation program from 23 to 13 programs. The bill funds the energy title programs, which this last extension did not do, and it also does a lot with ag research. I also had some of my amendments included which help beginning farmers and ranchers; that includes reducing the cost of crop insurance for beginning farmers by 10 percent. The second amendment helps beginning farmers access land for grazing.
These are just a few of the things in this bill. We are excited about this bill.
I would just end by saying, as Senator Stabenow did, that this is a call for action. The Senate has gotten its act together. We were able to work out a bipartisan compromise in the committee. We are able to get a strong vote on the floor. Now it is time for Speaker Boehner to call up the House bill so then we can work out the differences--as we should--in regular order, in conference committee.
Our farmers deserve nothing less, the kids who depend on these school nutrition programs deserve nothing less, and the conservation efforts in our country, those who hunt, those who fish, those who enjoy the outdoors, deserve nothing less.
It is time to get this bill done. We will vote on it tonight and then it goes over to the House. I would like to get this bill out of the House by the time we are ready to head into August, where we talk to a lot of our farmers and they have a few words to say every time we speak to them. I think the House would like to hear good things for a change.
I yield the floor.
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