With a vote of 15-5 this afternoon, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry passed the “Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013,” the Committee’s version of a new Farm Bill. American Soybean Association (ASA) President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, MS, called on the full Senate to pass the bill, and expressed ASA’s appreciation for the cooperative and bipartisan effort displayed by the Committee in crafting a bill that provides farmers with the certainty they need to continue producing enough food, feed, fiber, and biofuels to meet growing domestic and global demand.
Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation said the Bill meets Farm Bureau’s goal, although he is not happy with all of its provisions, “While the bill contains many provisions compatible with the core farm bill proposal offered by Farm Bureau, we recognize that no farm bill is perfect and there is always room for improvement. We are pleased that the Senate held firm to its intention of limiting cuts to $23 billion. That will help maintain workable and viable commodity and conservation titles by limiting program cuts to levels that are fair for farmers and ranchers.”
Reaction from dairy producers was positive to the Senate’s approach to dairy policy, “We commend the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee for approving a farm bill today to transform dairy policy, while making necessary improvements in other farm and nutrition programs. The dairy title of the committee’s bill contains the long-awaited reforms offered by the Dairy Security Act, which provides the best combination of effective risk management for dairy farmers, while minimizing program costs to the taxpayer.”
Not only did farm groups praise the conservation section of the legislation, but environmentalists were generally supportive. “The bill adopted by the Senate Agriculture Committee advances the League’s conservation priorities on multiple fronts,” says Isaac Walton League Agriculture Program Director Bill Wenzel. “By adopting a nationwide Sodsaver program, the bill will help conserve grassland habitat critical to wildlife and will save taxpayer dollars. The bill also takes a critical first step toward reconnecting conservation standards for soil and wetlands with crop insurance premium subsidies.” National Association of Conservation Districts President Earl Garber applauded Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Thad Cochran for their leadership on a strong farm bill that includes provisions relating to a historic conservation compliance agreement and Technical Assistance reforms. Garber says the bipartisan conservation compliance agreement, supported by NACD and other ag, environment and crop insurance groups, strengthens our ability to conserve natural resources for the future by tying conservation compliance to crop insurance for highly erodible land and wetlands while opposing means testing, payment limits or premium subsidy reductions for the crop insurance program. According to Garber, the Improve USDA-NRCS Conservation Technical Assistance amendment increases efficiency within the delivery of TA funds, putting TA decision-making authority in the hands of those who are the most familiar with resource needs on the ground.