While Nebraska’s Mike Johanns criticized the Senate leadership for choosing not to move the House-passed disaster relief legislation – Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow criticized the House leadership for refusing to move forward with a comprehensive five-year farm bill. The House Agriculture Committee passed its version of the farm bill last month with strong bipartisan support – and the full Senate passed its farm bill in June. Stabenow said the legislation includes critical disaster assistance provisions that go above and beyond the limited assistance the House leadership proposed – and strengthens crop insurance to help ensure farmers are protected from future disasters. Stabenow called it deeply troubling that the House would leave farmers and small businesses in a lurch at a time when the agriculture economy is vulnerable and facing incredible uncertainty. She said a five-year farm bill would provide the immediate relief producers need to battle drought and disaster – while also giving farmers the long-term certainty and additional tools they need to keep growing and creating jobs over the long-term.
Admitting the legislation was not a long-term solution – Lucas said the disaster aid bill would take care of the problem until Congress could get a five-year farm bill on the books and those policies in place. He stressed he is committed to giving farmers certainty – and plans to work toward that goal when Congress returns in September. If Congress doesn’t pass a farm bill – Stabenow says there will be no reform, direct payments will continue, the opportunity for major deficit reduction will be lost and the economic recovery will take a real blow.
A release from Stabenow says the farm bill approved by the Senate would reduce the deficit by 23-billion dollars by ending direct payment subsidies, streamlining programs and confronting program abuse.