In Case You Missed It: Senate Farm Bill is Major Reform

Senate Farm Bill is Major Reform

 “The farm bill, headed for the Senate floor Thursday, would cut spending by $23.6 billion over a decade, mostly by pruning payments that farmland owners get regardless of whether they plant crops… If signed into law, the subsidy cuts would mark one of the biggest changes to farm policy in years.” – The Wall Street Journal, 6/7/12

 “[The Farm Bill is] genuinely a landmark shift…away from direct cash payments to farmers – a much-criticized system begun in the mid-90s – and toward a more market-oriented approach keyed to crop insurance... ” – Politico, 6/12/12

 “The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a farm bill… which represents one of the biggest policy changes in generations.” – Bloomberg, 4/26/2012

Farm Bill has Rare Bipartisan Support

 “Who says that the Senate can’t get anything done? On Thursday, it voted 90-8 to open debate on a bill that could actually cut projected spending on Agriculture Department programs.… And the Agriculture Committee approved the bill on a bipartisan basis.” – Washington Post Editorial, 6/11/12

 “[D]espite the standoff on tax legislation and changes in entitlement programs, bipartisan legislation has moved ahead in Congress in recent weeks. Consider, for example, the farm bill the Senate is debating this week, the product of a partnership between Agriculture Committee chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas. ‘The Agriculture Committee historically has been the least partisan committee in the Congress,’ Roberts told C-SPAN on Sunday. He lavished praise on Stabenow, saying, ‘What’s the number one thing you hear back home: ‘Why can’t you all back there (in Washington) work together?’ Why can’t we get along and actually produce something – and we have.’”  -MSNBC.com 6/12/12

 “[B]ipartisanship will face its first test with…the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012.” – The National Journal, 6/4/12

 “[T]he [Farm] bill... is supported by more than 125 farm and healthy eating groups and almost 650 conservation groups.” – The Hagstrom Report, 6/4/12

 “[T]he [bipartisan] agreement is a genuine triumph for Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) who now has the certainty she wanted of getting to final Senate passage… But most key has been the working relationship she has forged with her ranking Republican, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts.” – Politico, 6/18/12

Farm Bill Significantly Cuts Spending

 “The farm bill…was always a bloated, contentious piece of legislation that grew larger and more expensive as it lumbered through Congress. But the farm bill…is a considerably slimmed-down version of previous incarnations. It would slash tens of billions of dollars in direct subsidies to farmers and in the federal food stamp program… The bill, which sets the nation’s agricultural and food policy for the next five years, enjoys rare bipartisan support and could?be the only significant piece of deficit-reduction legislation to gain congressional approval this year.” - Washington Post, 6/7/12

 “The farm bill tries to change policy fundamentally by eliminating millions of dollars in payments to farmers and farmland owners as a cushion against losses when crop prices fall.” – New York Times, 6/19/12

 “Most of the $23.6 billion in savings come from eliminating such notorious subsidies as the “direct payment” program…. The cuts represent not only systemic reform but also more than twice the agriculture savings that the Simpson-Bowles commission proposed.” – Washington Post Editorial, 6/11/12

 “The bill delivers more deficit reduction than required by the Budget Control Act and more than recommended by Bowles-Simpson or the Gang of 6.” – Agri-pulse 6/4/12

 “As record deficits fuel anxiety, lawmakers have chiseled $23 billion from agricultural programs — even below reductions mandated for the coming fiscal year by last summer's debt deal with the White House.” – LA Times, 6/20/12


Senate Farm Bill Streamlines Government, Increases Accountability

 “The bill ends direct payments made to farmers regardless of whether they plant a crop. That program currently costs $5 billion a year. It also terminates three other subsidy programs, including one based on price targets” – AP, 6/20/12

 “[The Farm Bill] would end direct payments to farmers... Conservation programs would be streamlined, and… the bill eliminates 100 individual programs that had been included in the 2008 farm bill...” – Agri-pulse 6/4/12

 “All together…more than 100 programs have been eliminated and the remaining programs will be easier to use….” – The Hagstrom Report, 6/4/12

 “[The Farm Bill] consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13, while boosting investment in … high-priority projects.” – The Detroit News, 4/26/12

 “[N]othing says government waste quite like a lottery winner on food stamps….Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) and ranking GOP member Pat Roberts (R- Kan.) have put together a bipartisan farm bill that addresses concerns about food stamp waste, fraud and abuse.” – Washington Post, 6/13/2012

“[A] proposal by Agriculture Committee leaders in both parties [would] trim a modest $250 million from the program each year by cracking down on abuses…  the bill already takes steps to eliminate abuses in the system, such as barring lottery winners from receiving benefits, ending misuse by college students, cracking down on benefit trafficking and preventing liquor and tobacco stores from accepting food assistance benefits. It also targets a practice of some 16 states of giving as little as $1 to individuals in home heating assistance so that they can qualify for additional food stamp benefits.” –AP, 6/18/12

“The Senate bill takes almost every conceivable step to cut down on abuses, including banning lottery winners from the program and ramping up enforcement against stores that convert food stamps into cash. But it otherwise maintains current eligibility standards, so any American who hits hard times can at least buy food.” – Detroit Free Press, 6/18/2012

 “The food-stamp spending cuts in the farm bill are the result of eliminating a loophole… Because many needy families don't have heating bills for various reasons, some states send out token $1 checks for "home heating," thus qualifying the recipients for added benefits. The farm bill that is up for debate now by the Senate would stop the $1 check programs.” – The Wall Street Journal, 6/19/12


 Farm Bill is Critical to Jobs in Many Areas of the Economy

 “Stabenow emphasized that this is a ‘jobs bill’ because every one billion in agricultural exports translates into 8,400 American jobs…” – Agri-pulse 6/4/12

 “Could fruit and vegetable growers, renewable-energy producers, foresters, conservationists, and agriculture researchers help garner the 60 votes needed to overcome the threat of a Senate filibuster of the farm bill, even while commodity groups continue to squabble over the crop program?… Most of the focus on the farm-bill debate has been on the commodity title that covers crop subsidies, but…the other 11 titles of the bill contain programs that benefit many stakeholders, and… most of the beneficiaries of those programs are pleased with the package…more than 600 conservation groups have endorsed the bill… The bill also maintains programs to help beginning farmers and a new program to help returning veterans farm.” – National Journal, 5/21/2012

 “The Farm Bill is important to those directly affected by it: in the case of the farm bill, not only farmers, but food processors, farm equipment manufacturers, the people who run food banks, etc.” –MSNBC

 “Farm legislation would create and fund a labeling program for consumer products made from crops…such as soy beans and corn. It also would expand a federal bio-refinery loan program to include bio-based manufacturers…to encourage businesses to build new facilities or expand existing operations.” – Mlive, 5/30/12


What’s at Stake

 “The stakes are big: a bipartisan bill promising real savings and impacting an important part of the economy. Failure of the Senate to act would kill any chance of House action this summer, as well as invite chaos when the current farm law expires Sept. 30…But proponents are battling a mindset that nothing will get done before the November elections and better to seek short-term political advantage with amendments.” – Politico, 6/12/2012