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Public Statements

The Farm Bill

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. STABENOW. Madam President, while I have a moment--I thought that there were others wishing to speak--since there are not, I wanted to take one more moment to speak about something else that is running out today that I am deeply involved in and deeply concerned about.

That is the 5-year agriculture, nutrition, and conservation policy of this country, the farm bill. We have seen the end today of the extension that was put in place last year because of House inaction. Starting tomorrow, we essentially begin to operate on fumes. We will see a time period in a few weeks when we will see the full impact of having no farm bill.

It is incredibly important that we use this time immediately to negotiate a final farm bill that will not only reduce the deficit, as our bill does by $24 billion, but one that can get a straight bipartisan vote as we did here in the Senate with over two-thirds of the Senate twice voting for a comprehensive reform bill that addresses supporting our farmers and ranchers from a risk management standpoint, while eliminating subsidies that do not make sense from a taxpayer standpoint, strengthening crop insurance, strengthening conservation to protect our land, and air, and water, focusing on regional and local foods, farmers markets, small farmers, to support them as well, new jobs and bioenergy, as well as investing in rural communities all across America through our rural development efforts.

What we call the farm bill really is the rural economic development bill for the country. Some 16 million people work in this country because of agriculture. This is the biggest jobs bill we will pass. Our farmers and all of those impacted have been waiting and waiting and waiting and, frankly, have had enough. They want this to get done.

So I call on our House colleagues again to join with us to be able to finally get this passed into law. This is incredibly important for the economy, for small towns such as the one where I grew up in Clare, MI, all across Michigan, all across the country.

It is incredibly important for our efforts to continue to protect our soil and our forests and our air and our water and to be able to maintain the beautiful outdoors that we do and support for hunters and fishermen and others that we do through efforts in the farm bill. It is incredibly important that this get done. It is long overdue.

So I couldn't let this evening go by without indicating that on the long list of things that have not been done, the September 30 date is incredibly important for rural America, for our farmers and ranchers who need help when they have a loss, for our families who need help when they have a loss, and for our ability to continue to grow jobs.

Our largest area of exports is in agriculture. It is a vibrant, important part of the economy. There is no excuse for this not having already been done. Again, too many games have been played attacking families who need help and choosing not to proceed in a reasonable, balanced way as we did in the Senate.

I am recommitting myself again, as I have day after day--and tomorrow--to making sure I do everything I possibly can. I call on House colleagues and on the Speaker to do everything they can in order to finally get a 5-year comprehensive food, farm, and jobs bill done so that we may continue to grow a very important part of the economy.

I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.

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