Farm Bureau Praises House Farm Bill Reform

US - The House-passed farm bill establishes a new benchmark for reform while retaining a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. The skillfully crafted bill addresses the concerns of taxpayers, increases support for agricultural environmental programs and balances the diverse needs of America’s family-based food and fiber production system, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.
calendar icon 30 July 2007
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“The farm bill passed by the House 231-191 strikes a reasonable balance in allocating benefits among our nation’s farming and ranching families who grow a safe and secure supply of food and fiber for America and the world,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Rep. Collin Peterson walked a tightrope in developing this legislation in the House Agriculture Committee. He did an outstanding job of shepherding it through the House for approval.”

“The bill is designed to help smooth out the valleys of uncertainty most individual farmers would otherwise be unable to weather alone.”

AFBF President Bob Stallman.

House debate of the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007 (H.R. 2419) included consideration of more than 30 amendments. A key amendment vote occurred when a Farm Bureau-opposed measure that would have gutted the “three-legged” economic safety net was defeated by a resounding 309-117 vote. The vote signaled that support for stripping funding from commodity-based programs, as proposed by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), has eroded considerably since a similar measure garnered 200 votes during debate of the 2002 farm bill.

Stallman said that vote was indicative of the level of strong support for continuing a basic level of public investment to ensure a secure and reliable domestic food supply for American consumers.

“This farm bill benefits all sectors of agriculture, including new support for fruit and vegetable producers, and it provides real policy reforms,” Stallman said. “For the first time in recent history, no additional funding is provided for commodity programs. At the same time, the bill meets the needs of more of America’s farmers by providing $1.6 billion in new funding for specialty crop research, conservation, pest and disease programs, and nutrition.

“Overall, this bill directly benefits America’s taxpayers because it is fiscally responsible, spending $20 billion less than the prior farm bill. That is real reform. There was greater emphasis, however, in directing additional support toward nutrition, energy security and supporting rural communities. There also is more funding to help farmers take better care of our nation’s natural resources.”

Stallman said the House farm bill more effectively balances support programs among all types of crops and gives farmers the opportunity to enroll in a “revenue-based counter-cyclical program,” which could prove more responsive to addressing their economic challenges, according to AFBF.

“These reforms encourage individual farmers to produce crops demanded by the marketplace while at the same time delivering better economic protection against the many uncertainties they face, such as volatile crop prices and extreme weather conditions,” Stallman said. “The bill is designed to help smooth out the valleys of uncertainty most individual farmers would otherwise be unable to weather alone. In doing so, the bill supports the production of our nation’s food and fiber staples and it preserves a way of life that benefits all of American society.”

Stallman said the new bill also is important because it includes assistance to address the needs of young and beginning farmers, and it includes provisions to help farmers grow crops for the production of home-grown renewable fuels.

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