After years of some of the most divisive politics in recent history, both the House and Senate have passed a new Farm Bill. By a vote of 68 – 32, the Senate passed the conference report sending a new 5 year Farm Bill to the President. While many conservatives complained the reforms in the legislation do not go far enough, both Indiana Senators Joe Donnelly and Dan Coats voted in favor of the Bill. Donnelly said the Bill, while not perfect, is good for Indiana agriculture, “The Hoosier ag community now has the certainty it deserves. There are a number of provisions in this Bill important to Indiana, and I look forward to continuing to work with our state’s farmers and rural communities. I am proud of the work our farmers do to feed their fellow Hoosiers and the world—as well as produce homegrown energy to lessen our dependence on foreign oil.”
Indiana Pork producers complained that the lack of a fix in the Farm Bill for the Country of Origin labeling program will lead to trade retaliation. Donnelly said Congress is likely to take up that issue later this year, “I feel confident we will address that issue in the near future.”
Senator Coats told HAT he supported the Bill because a key provision he help craft that gives Hoosier fruit and vegetable growers planting flexibility was included in the final compromise, “We don’t need someone in Washington telling growers what they can plant and when they can plant it.” The provision lets growers make specialty crop decision based on the market or other conditions. “It has been nearly six years since Congress last authorized a Farm Bill, and Indiana’s agriculture community has waited long enough,” said Coats. “While not perfect, this legislation provides Hoosier farmers with the certainty they need for the next five years.”
IFB President Don Villwock said the bill ends direct payments to farmers but keeps crop insurance as the safety net for producers, “It does provide additional risk management tools for grain, livestock, and fruit and vegetable farmers while still saving taxpayers’ money, about $23 billion over 10 years.” Most of the savings come from the elimination of direct cash payments to farmers. Farmers desperately needed to know what to expect from the federal farm program before making planting decisions this spring, Villwock noted. The Bill that was passed today does provide a degree of assurance and stability, he said.
“This bill provides certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers, and contains a variety of commonsense reforms that my Administration has consistently called for, including reforming and eliminating direct farm subsidies and providing assistance for farmers when they need it most. It will continue reducing our deficits without gutting the vital assistance programs millions of hardworking Americans count on to help put food on the table for their families. And it will support conservation of valuable lands, spur the development of renewable energy, and incentivize healthier nutrition for all Americans. As with any compromise, the Farm Bill isn’t perfect – but on the whole, it will make a positive difference not only for the rural economies that grow America’s food, but for our nation.”
US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack
“Today’s action will allow the proud men and women who feed millions around the world to invest confidently in the future. Our communities will have additional support to attract new economic opportunity and create jobs. During difficult times, children, working families, seniors and people with disabilities will have access to nutritious food. The potential of new products, treatments and discoveries will be strengthened through new agricultural research. Renewed conservation efforts will protect our fields, forests and waters creating new tourism options. This legislation is important to the entire nation.”
“We’re happy to see the farm bill pass the Senate and are looking forward to seeing it signed and implemented,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “It was a long time coming for a bill so important for promoting stability in farm policy while saving taxpayers money and feeding the hungry. While it’s not perfect, we’re pleased to see the bill contains many provisions we’ve been working hard for over the years.” Barbre in particular pointed out that the new legislation provides the farmers the option to participate in either the revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage program (with county or farm-level options) or a Price Loss Coverage program with fixed reference prices. The ARC will provide a band of coverage for 76 to 86 percent of the benchmark revenue.
“The American Farm Bureau Federation commends the Senate for passing the new five-year farm bill with clear, bipartisan support. America’s farmers and ranchers are one step closer to having the certainty needed—and provided by the farm bill—to make planting and farm business decisions. The farm bill provides farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming year, allowing them to continue with their business of providing food and jobs for America. We are particularly pleased with provisions in the 2014 farm bill to provide risk management to fruit and vegetable farmers and to support livestock farmers during disasters.”
“We are relieved and pleased to see the farm bill cross the finish line this afternoon, said ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser. “Today’s vote is the culmination of years of advocacy by ASA and other farm groups on behalf of policies that help our individual crops and our collective industry move forward. We’ve invested a great deal of time and energy in this bill, and the final product represents a true compromise that will benefit many crops, regions and aspects of American agriculture.”