Overall, Farm Groups Pleased with Senate Farm Bill

Several ag organizations applauded Senate passage of the 2012 Farm Bill Thursday and expressed the importance of completing work on the bill before the current bill expires in September.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says the measure approved by the Senate provides farmers improved risk management tools consistent with the organization’s core principles. He says it includes important reforms and is fiscally responsible while including important provisions to enhance crop insurance, maintain a viable marketing loan program and minimize the potential for farm program provisions to drive producer decisions. But Stallman says the bill isn’t perfect and there is still work ahead to fully secure the kind of policies Farm Bureau believes its farm and ranch families need. He called the Senate measure a workable bill.

Ahead of the final vote – National Farmers Union noted the bipartisan legislation makes significant policy reforms while retaining critical farm safety net programs. NFU President Roger Johnson says it helps farmers manage actual risk, continues to feed our nation’s food insecure, streamlines and strengthens important conservation programs, continues critical investment in renewable energy and supports the rural economy.

American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman says the Senate’s farm bill would establish an effective risk management program for soybean producers that complements crop insurance, consolidate conservation programs and have agriculture do its fair share to help address the nation’s fiscal situation. Major provisions supported by ASA include the Agriculture Risk Coverage program – under which revenue losses exceeding 11-percent will be partially offset at either the farm or county level – and reauthorization and funding of the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program. Wellman says ASA does disagree with some of the amendments approved on the Senate floor – but on the whole – the group believes the bill will help farmers manage risk, conserve natural resources and develop foreign markets.

American Farmland Trust hailed Senate passage of the 2012 Farm Bill. They were particularly pleased that an amendment to reattach conservation compliance to crop and revenue insurance was adopted. They also pointed to the inclusion of the new agricultural land easement component – patterned after the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. AFT further noted that language specifically supporting the role of land trusts and state agencies who work with USDA in protecting farm and ranch lands through this program was adopted. AFT President Jon Scholl says the reforms provide more comprehensive and efficient tools for conservation – but says conservation programs shouldered a significant share of cuts to aid deficit reduction. He says more than a quarter of the spending cuts result from reforms and reductions in the Conservation Title.

Gene Schmidt – National Association of Conservation Districts President – says the farm bill approved by the Senate is a reform bill with benefits that stretch far beyond rural America. He says the bill impacts everything from food security, to the economy and to the conservation of the land, air and water we rely on every day. As passed by the Senate – Schmidt says the 2012 Farm Bill includes a strong Conservation Title that streamlines and consolidates programs for increased efficiency and ease-of-use for producers. At the same time – he says critical funding is maintained for all of the conservation purposes needed to implement conservation where it counts. NACD is calling on the House to follow the Senate’s lead in passing a bill that recognizes the role of local-led conservation in protecting and preserving America’s natural resources. Schmidt says we can’t afford not to invest in our natural resource base as we face increased pressure to produce food, feed, fuel and fiber for a growing population.

The farm bill approved by the Senate Thursday addresses many priorities critical to United Fresh members – including programs supporting essential research, market promotion and nutrition and continued support of specialty crops. United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel says the bill supports fruits and vegetables in ways that will boost consumption and help provide healthful options to Americans.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall says NCBA stands firm in its commitment to support the Senate’s farm legislation. He says the amendment process was concerning in its early stages – but all is well for cattlemen and women. As written – Woodall says the legislation incorporates all NCBA priorities. He notes there is no livestock title, conservation programs are maintained and the research title is sustained. Woodall says NCBA will continue working with the House to ensure amendments that would interject the federal government into production agriculture are left out of the legislation or soundly defeated.

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