Widespread Praise for the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (the 2012 Farm Bill)

Washington, DC – Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, led the Committee in considering and approving the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, last Thursday with broad bipartisan support. The bill reforms food and agricultural policy by eliminating direct payments, consolidating programs and ending duplication, and cracking down on abuse in food assistance programs. This new Farm Bill saves $23 billion while strengthening crop insurance and other initiatives that help create American agricultural jobs (a summary of the bill can be found here).


Following are statements from a range of organizations and stakeholders, praising the bill for its major reforms, and for the collaborative, inclusive and exceptionally bipartisan process of drafting it:  


American Farm Bureau Federation:

“Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts deserve praise for structuring this legislation with crucial risk management tools for farmers and doing so in a fiscally responsible manner during one of the toughest budget climates our nation has ever faced. The bill also provides a firm foundation for continued cooperative, incentive-based conservation efforts.”


The Nature Conservancy:

“The Senate Agriculture Committee proved today that there is strong and bipartisan support for a Farm Bill that contains the kind of solid conservation programs America needs in order to meet our increasing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel. … This Committee did outstanding work crafting a Conservation Title that keeps intact–and in some cases improves upon—programs that play an essential role in conserving America’s soil, water and wildlife habitat. These leaders have our sincerest appreciation for their hard work ... We now ask Senate leaders to ensure that the Farm Bill receives prompt floor action so that their efforts are not lost."


National Farmers Union:

“NFU is pleased to see the 2012 Farm Bill voted out of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in a bipartisan vote. This represents progress toward providing a fiscally responsible farm safety net directed to family farmers and ranchers. The bill’s investment in rural America will create jobs and opportunities for farmers to continue providing energy and conservations benefits to all Americans.”


Oxfam America:

“This proposal takes important steps to cut waste and modernize America’s international food aid programs. U.S. food aid programs are absolutely critical to our foreign policy and our moral values. Regulations imposed on the food aid program to protect special interests cost taxpayers up to $500 million per year … Advocates for effective aid have pushed for nearly a decade to see common sense steps taken to bring our aid programs up to date. Everyone should support the reforms to food aid programs offered in this bill to ensure that our tax dollars are spent as efficiently and effectively as possible to save millions of lives. We urge the Congress to include the long overdue fixes to food aid in the Farm Bill and reject the special interests who seek to undermine life-saving reforms.”


Fair Food Network:

“We applaud the Agriculture Committee for including SNAP incentive provisions in the committee bill. Thanks to Senator Stabenow’s tireless leadership, these common sense, bipartisan provisions will benefit SNAP recipients, strengthen the program, and provide growth opportunities for American farmers.”


Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership:

“These are trying times for private lands conservation funding, but thanks to the leadership of Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, the Senate Farm Bill makes the most of limited dollars. By strengthening programs through sound policy, the Senate Farm Bill makes the conservation title more efficient and more user friendly, a victory for responsible resources management. American sportsmen commend the Senate Agriculture Committee for producing the best possible Farm Bill under circumstances that are challenging at best.”


Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance:

“The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) today applauds the leadership shown by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and the entire Senate Agriculture Committee to advance a new Farm Bill. The Committee’s proposed Farm Bill supports many of the critical priorities for specialty crops. The SCFBA is pleased to see the proposed Farm Bill continues the important investments made in specialty crop programs through the 2008 Farm Bill. The Alliance urges the Committee to complete its work on the bill and pass this important legislation this week … The SCFBA applauds the broad, bi-partisan support shown by the Senate for advancing a new Farm Bill that addresses specialty crop needs.”


Environmental Defense Fund:

“It’s important for Congress to get a farm bill done this year, and the action today by the Senate Agriculture Committee to report a bill represents an important step in the process. More importantly, the work that leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee have done over the past few months demonstrates a continuing, strong commitment to conservation – even in the face of significant budget pressures … The bill reported by the Senate Agriculture Committee today cuts overall farm bill spending by $23 billion, with $6 billion of the cuts coming from conservation programs. Although any cuts will be painful given the increasing demands on natural resources, members on both sides of the aisle worked to minimize the impact of the cuts by also including policy improvements designed to increase the effectiveness of conservation programs.”


National Council of Farmer Cooperatives:

“Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts are to be commended for taking the lead on reauthorization of the farm bill by holding a markup today … The new policies in the Farm Bill reflect the dairy industry becoming more focused on markets, particularly international markets, and finding those markets for a growing dairy sector in this country. It’s exciting to see those kind of things taking place.”


National Crop Insurance Services:

“The bill passed out of the Committee today responded to calls from growers of most major crops by keeping crop insurance strong and ensuring that it will remain at the forefront of modern-day farm policy. We appreciate the Committee’s efforts to improve the crop insurance title and limit the adverse impacts of other programs on crop insurance.”


National Association of Conservation Districts:

“On behalf of the National Association of Conservation Districts and our 3,000 member districts across the country, we applaud the Senate Agriculture Committee for its swift approval of the 2012 Farm Bill. We’re especially pleased with a strong Conservation Title that streamlines and consolidates programs for increased efficiency and ease-of-use for producers. We encourage the full Senate to act quickly and vote in favor of this bipartisan, common-sense bill.”


U.S. Cattlemen’s Association:

“Under the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts, the Senate Agriculture Committee has taken the lead in ensuring cattle producers are adequately represented in the 2012 Farm Bill through the inclusion of the Livestock Subtitle. The continued investment in comprehensive animal health initiatives, specifically such provisions as the competitive grant program which targets Tuberculosis/Brucellosis, is paramount and USCA will look to continue their support of the Farm Bill as written as the bill reaches the Senate floor and continues to move through Congress.”


Ducks Unlimited:

“DU is pleased that the chairwoman and the committee included key conservation elements such as the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program and a new regional partnership program that contribute to soil, water and wildlife benefits … This program will incentivize collaboration among federal, state and private partners to target and focus conservation efforts in watersheds to improve water quality and reduce sediment, giving landowners and the general public a bigger bang for their buck. Hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers will benefit as well, due to the increased conservation efforts on working lands.”


Pheasants Forever:

“We were very pleased to see strong conservation language in the Farm Bill that passed out of the Senate Ag Committee under Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Robert’s leadership. The strong, bi-partisan support for a bill that included provisions to help protect critical native prairies, provide access to sportsmen and addresses a strong suite of conservation programs, while reducing the overall federal budget were all positive signs as the 2012 Farm Bill process moves forward.”


National Corn Growers Association:

“We greatly appreciate the work by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts to put forth a well-crafted 2012 farm bill.  The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to see the committee listened to the concerns of our nation’s corn growers and have done a great job keeping our priorities under consideration while drafting the legislation … While we understand this is the first step in a very long process, we applaud the Senate Ag Committee for holding a markup and hope the House Agriculture Committee will swiftly follow suit. We look forward to our continued work with members and staff on this important piece of legislation and urge Congress to pass a farm bill this year.”


National Association of Wheat Growers:

“We appreciate the leadership of Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Roberts and the Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee in pushing forward the 2012 Farm Bill discussions. When they head into the fields to plant the 2013 crop beginning this fall, our wheat farmers need to know they have access to a strong, crop-insurance-based safety net. We look forward to continued progress on the Senate floor and in the House.”


American Soybean Association:

“ASA is very pleased with the Senate Agriculture Committee’s work today, and throughout the Farm Bill process. As passed by the Committee, this legislation will serve the needs not only of soybean farmers, but of the entire farming community.”


National Cotton Council:

“The U.S. cotton industry is grateful to Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) and Senator Roberts (R-KS) – along with the solid support of Senators Chambliss (R-GA), Cochran (R-MS) and Boozman (R-AR) — for including the NCC’s Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) and modified marketing assistance loan program, both designed to meet budget challenges and the resolving of the Brazil WTO case.”


American Veterinary Medical Association:

“AVMA agrees with your decision to maintain the $23 billion in savings that you first suggested to the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction as the Committee’s target for this bill. Agriculture has taken disproportionate budget cuts over the past few years and believes that you struck the right balance between doing “your part” to reduce the deficit while maintaining essential programs … The importance of completing a farm bill this year cannot be overstated. The AVMA is committed to working with Congress and our stakeholder partners to help pass the bill this year.”


Public Health Institute:

“PHI applauds Senators Stabenow and Roberts for their strong leadership in moving forward bipartisan legislation that makes critical investments in nutrition, particularly during this time of significant pressure to find budgetary savings. Protecting programs such as SNAP-Ed is essential to optimizing the nutritional and economic value of SNAP benefits to improve the health and well-being of those who are most in need.”


National Telecommunications Cooperative Association:

Thank you for undertaking such a major effort to update and modernize the Farm Bill. This process is laborious in the best of times, and as this country faces an increasing deficit and debt, this challenge is significant … Thank you again for your hard work and effort on this and so many other essential areas for rural America.”


Biotechnology Industry Organization:

“The important energy title programs authorized and funded in this bill are just beginning to have a positive impact in revitalizing rural America, fueling economic growth and creating well-paying opportunities where we need it most -- in manufacturing, energy, agriculture and forestry. These programs can also help meet our responsibilities to revitalize rural areas, reduce dependence on foreign oil, and renew economic growth. The Farm Bill’s energy title and proposals to support biomanufacturing will help the United States maintain its competitive leadership in biotechnology, manufacturing and agriculture – ensuring that what we grow here in the United States can be used to make new products here and create jobs here.”


World Food Program USA:

“The Farm Bill developed by the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee helps alleviate global hunger. It is a testament to the longstanding dedication of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts who have been steadfast in their commitment to addressing hunger. We strongly support the global hunger provisions in the bill. The bill builds upon the ongoing efforts of Congress and the Administration to transform the U.S. response to global hunger. It increases the sustainability of school feeding programs, improves the nutritional quality of food assistance, fosters integration of US food security programs and increases the cost effectiveness of food aid. This is a good bill for the world’s hungry people.”


The Biobased Products Coalition:

“The Biobased Products Coalition (BPC) applauded Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts for provisions included in their Farm Bill mark that continue and expand the Section 9002 Biobased Market Program.”


Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies:

“The Senate Agriculture Committee worked admirably at making the most of a very unfortunate national budget situation. We sincerely appreciate Chairwoman Stabenow’s and Senator Roberts’ commitment to continue funding for conservation programs at reasonable levels – and their acknowledgement that conservation is a significant component of working agriculture. We applaud both you and your staffs’ willingness to collaborate, resolve difficult issues, and put forth changes in farm bill policy that advance our nation’s agricultural production and provide invaluable natural resources conservation opportunities while taking steps to help reduce our nation’s growing deficit problem.”


National Milk Producers Federation:

“We believe the approach the Senate Agriculture Committee is taking will generate broad, bipartisan support for the farm bill. This bill allows dairy farmers to better manage their risks, in a deliberate approach that offers a superior safety net, reduces government involvement in our industry, and positions our entire industry to compete in a global marketplace. It saves money compared to existing programs, and will be affordable and convenient for farmers to use. Critically, it treats all farmers equally, and doesn’t produce regional or size-based outcomes that are inherently discriminatory.”


American Sugar Alliance:

“The Senate Agriculture Committee should be commended for its hard work and dedication in producing a bipartisan bill that will ensure that one of America’s most important industries—agriculture—can thrive. Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) deserve particular praise. Producing a bill that saves taxpayers money with support on both sides of the aisle is no small feat given today’s political and budget climate.  While we know that much work remains to pass a final bill, we are encouraged that today’s markup keeps the process moving forward.”


National Conference of State Legislatures:

“We applaud your efforts, which will continue to build on the important state federal partnership in administering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). NCSL looks forward to continuing to work with you throughout the process of reauthorizing vital nutrition assistance programs in the 2012 Farm Bill.”


Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development:

“We thank you for working in a bipartisan manner to develop a 2012 Farm Bill and push for its adoption this year. We applaud you for making serious policy changes which will improve the effectiveness of rural development programs.”


The Land Trust Alliance:

“The Land Trust Alliance wishes to commend you and your staff for the draft farm bill recently posted on the committee’s website. As you know, we have paid special attention to the working land easement programs, including the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) and Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), now combined in your draft bill as Agricultural Land Easements under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.  We want to thank you for the thoughtful way this has been done in the draft, and for the funding levels provided for these easements.” 


First Focus Campaign for Children:

“We are pleased that the proposed legislation protects the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program as this ensures that low-income elementary students have access to a fresh fruit or vegetable snack, every day at school, as well as the investment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) which helps low-income Americans make healthy choices on a limited budget.”


Wholesome Wave:

“The Senate Agriculture Committee’s work on the 2012 Farm Bill required difficult choices and compromise. Wholesome Wave applauds the bipartisan leadership of the committee, led by Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, (D-Michigan) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, (R-Kansas) … We are encouraged to see the bipartisan support of this important piece of proposed legislation. We all need to be at the table together so that the voices of the underserved are never forgotten.”


A copy of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 is available for download on the Committee’s website, as well as a summary of the bill, at http://ag.senate.gov.