Widespread Praise for the 2012 Farm Bill
Stakeholders Across Michigan and Throughout the Country Praise Bills Reforms, Job Creation Initiatives, Bipartisanship
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 week 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 wide variety of Michigan-based and national organizations and stakeholders, praising the bill for its major reforms and for the collaborative, inclusive and exceptionally bipartisan process of drafting it:
Michigan Farm Bureau:
"Passing a farm bill is never an easy feat, and Chairwoman Stabenow and her counterpart, Ranking Committee Member Senator Pat Roberts, deserve a lot of credit for moving the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 forward.... Stabenow and her staff have worked hard over the last year in gathering input from Michigan farmers-a gesture not lost on Farm Bureau members.... The Senator reviewed programs with farmers actually impacted by them, made appropriate changes, and put together a sound piece of legislation. At the same time, she managed to save nearly $23 billion relative to current farm bill spending." -Ryan Findlay, Michigan Farm Bureau National Legislative Counsel
Agricultural Leaders of Michigan:
"Agriculture is a major force in Michigan's economy, bringing in nearly $90 billion annually. We thank Senator Stabenow for her hard work on the Farm Bill. This bipartisan effort consolidates programs, makes necessary reforms to agricultural policy and saves taxpayer money all while supporting and strengthening agriculture." -Jim Byrum, President (also president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association; speaking here on behalf of Agriculture Leaders of Michigan)
Michigan Agri-Business Association:
"Sen. Stabenow has fought consistently for reforms that will help Michigan farmers increase production and deal with increasing demand, and this draft Farm Bill deserves Congress' fullest support. Sen. Debbie Stabenow deserves credit for her support of major efforts to modernize and streamline farm policy that will ensure Michigan and U.S. agriculture can continue to grow and feed the world. Michigan agri-businesses view this draft Farm Bill as a blueprint for how U.S. and Michigan agriculture can continue to compete in today's economy.
"Strong infrastructure and reliable access to electricity are essential if Michigan agriculture is going to continue to grow. This Farm Bill will strengthen energy production in rural areas, spurring economic development and ensuring energy security. We appreciate Senator Stabenow's leadership and vision in bringing both parties together to pass these much needed reforms." -Jim Byrum President (also president of Agriculture Leaders of Michigan; speaking here on behalf of the Michigan Agri-Business Association)
Great Lakes Commission:
"We are enthusiastic about the important new opportunities the Farm Bill offers to improve water quality, enhance habitat, and support a prosperous and sustainable agricultural sector in the Great Lakes region. We appreciate the critical leadership you have provided." -Tim Eder, Executive Director
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." -Oran B. Hesterman, President and CEO
Michigan Cherry Committee:
"Michigan's cherry farmers continue to grow and compete with farmers nationally and globally. We appreciate the work that Senator Stabenow has done in bringing all sides together and drafting this Farm Bill. Senator Stabenow's efforts are essential to strengthening the diversity of Michigan's agricultural industry." -Phil Korson, Executive Director
GreenStone Farm Credit Services:
"The 2012 Farm Bill passed by the committee positions agriculture in Michigan and across the nation for growth, while taking into account the realities of today's global economy and growing demand for safe, affordable and nutritious food. Sound risk management practices like crop insurance help ensure financial stability for Michigan farmers, especially when weather brings drought, floods, hail and other natural calamities. The Senate Agriculture Committee approved a Farm Bill that can lead to more growth and opportunities for America's agriculture industry.
"Sound risk management practices like crop insurance help ensure financial stability for Michigan farmers, and make sure that farmers are not wiped out by one day of bad weather. This Farm Bill will reduce the deficit while preserving programs that help farmers mitigate risk and manage their resources effectively. We are pleased that the committee came together in a bipartisan manner to adopt these much needed reforms and urge Congress to act quickly on them." -Dave Armstrong, President and CEO
Michigan Milk Producers Association:
"Michigan dairy producers applaud the Senate Agriculture Committee for addressing much needed reforms that can modernize dairy policy, and we urge the full Senate to continue standing up for those reforms pass the Farm Bill quickly. Dairy is Michigan's top agricultural commodity, and U.S. dairy exports have more than doubled in the last seven years. We look forward to a dairy policy that is based on today's market realities and which allows us to continue to grow and meet increasing demands.
"Michigan dairy producers applaud Senator Stabenow for her leadership in reducing the deficit while bringing much needed reforms to government. Dairy is Michigan's top agricultural commodity, and U.S. dairy exports have more than doubled in the last seven years. We look forward to the passage of a Farm Bill that revamps current dairy policy and gives Michigan dairy farmers the tools we need to meet the increasing global demand while at the same time assuring U.S. consumers an abundant supply of milk." -Ken Nobis, President
Michigan Pork Producers Association:
"Michigan's agricultural sector is extremely diverse and is aggressively pursuing new markets and opportunities - opportunities that we can seize with the 2012 Farm Bill the committee passed. Michigan's pork producers applaud the provision in the Farm Bill establishing a feral swine eradication program. Aggressively eliminating this invasive species is critical to protecting our markets, preserving existing jobs and creating new ones. We thank the Senate committee for their hard work in passing the bi-partisan reform that pork producers and the entire agricultural need to compete in a global economy." - Sam Hines, Executive Vice President
Michigan Corn Growers Association:
"We appreciate the work by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow to develop a well-crafted 2012 farm bill and work in a bi-partisan effort to pass the Farm Bill out of committee... While we understand that this is a long process, we commend the work of the entire Senate Ag Committee and industry in the work completed thus far. We look forward to continued work with Senator Stabenow and Congress in passing the farm bill in 2012.
"Michigan's corn growers applaud Senator Stabenow for providing exactly the kind of bipartisan leadership this country needs to move forward.. Michigan and U.S. agriculture continue to be bright spots in our economy, and this Farm Bill gives agriculture the stability it needs to continue to create growth and economic opportunities." -Jeff Sandborn, President
Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy/Leelanau Conservancy:
"We...express our heartfelt appreciation for the development and inclusion of the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program and associated funding outlined in the Committee Pring of the 2o12 Farm Bill ... Combining the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) with the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) and the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) holds great promise for new program efficiencies and for more streamlined services better understood and accessed by our area growers. We commend you and your staff for this innovative effort to simplify the easement programs in the Farm Bill while continuing to leverage partnerships with land trusts such as ours." -Glen Chown, Executive Director, Regional Land Conservancy; -Brian Price, Executive Director of the Leelanau Conservancy
Potato Growers of Michigan:
"Michigan's potato industry is on the rise, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow's commitment to agriculture and specialty crops like potatoes is the key for our farmers and businesses to grow and thrive. We appreciate the work that Sen. Debbie Stabenow has done in bringing all sides together and drafting this Farm Bill. Sen. Stabenow's efforts are essential to strengthening the diversity of Michigan's agricultural industry." Ben Kudwa, Legislative Director
Michigan Allied Poultry Industries, Inc.:
"Agriculture is a major driving force in Michigan's economy, creating jobs, opportunities for economic growth, and continuing to expand exports. Senator Stabenow's leadership and this proposed Farm Bill will give agriculture the tools it needs to continue to be a competitive force globally, while providing a solid safety net for producers. That's why poultry producers and agriculture as a whole stand with her as we work together to grow our agricultural industry and support this 2012 Farm Bill." -George House, Executive Director
Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition:
"Congratulations on developing a bipartisan proposal. We support the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program in subtitle E of the committee's draft bill and look forward to working with you as the process moves forward." -Chad Lord, Policy Director
Michigan Bean Commission:
"Senator Stabenow deserves credit for listening to the concerns of Michigan agricultural leaders and farmers while passing a Farm Bill reduces the deficit and reforms government. This bill cuts billions of dollars in spending while still preserving key programs that Michigan agriculture needs to continue competing globally. We look forward to continuing to work with her to find new ways to strengthen Michigan's agricultural economy." -Ross Voelker, Commission Chair
American Forest Foundation:
"With strong demand for forest products, the 438,000 families who own Michigan's forests will be better able to conserve and manage them. We applaud Senator Stabenow's efforts to increase the use of forest products and jobs in rural communities." -Tom Martin, President and CEO
"Including forest products in the Biobased Markets Program will create demand for forest products, helping to bring back the 110,000 forestry sector jobs lost across the North since 2005. Under current policy, forest products are excluded from this program, despite their biobased content ... In the last few years, more than 505 predominately hardwood mills across the North have been shuttered. We are thankful that Senator Stabenow recognizes the jobs and economic loss our rural communities have suffered and takes steps to ensure that American-made forest products aren't disadvantaged by biobased procurement requirements." - Deb Hawkinson, Executive Director
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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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.