Supporting Michigan Agriculture

Senator Debbie Stabenow is a champion for Michigan agriculture and rural communities. As author of the bipartisan 2014 Farm Bill, Senator Stabenow worked to streamline more than 100 programs while making historic investments in land and water conservation, clean energy, local food systems, and specialty crops. This legislation is helping to reinvigorate the economies of small towns and rural communities through her support of cutting-edge research and biobased manufacturing.

The bipartisan food and farm legislation also put an end to unnecessary subsidies in favor of expanding crop insurance to ensure that farmers won’t go out of business when a weather disaster strikes.

The Stabenow-authored Farm Bill also helps protect the Great Lakes and other precious natural resources by strengthening conservation programs that help farmers provide healthy soil, clean water and wildlife habitat.

Reforming Farm Programs While Strengthening Risk Management

The 2014 Farm Bill eliminates unnecessary direct payment subsidies, a major reform in American agriculture policy. Direct payments are paid out every year whether or not there is a need. The bill also strengthens and improves risk management tools and supports farmers and small business owners who have suffered disasters beyond their control. Stabenow’s Farm Bill reforms farm programs to save taxpayer dollars, while providing farmers with a responsible risk management system that strengthens crop insurance and makes it available to Michigan’s fruit and vegetable growers.

Protecting the Great Lakes through Farmland Conservation

As co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Caucus, Stabenow is passionate about protecting Michigan’s Great Lakes, streams, and rivers. The 2014 Farm Bill improves and strengthens conservation efforts critical to Michigan, including the creation of a new Great Lakes Regional Partnership to help preserve the Great Lakes. The bill includes an historic agreement, reached between conservation and agriculture organizations, requiring farmers to engage in conservation compliance practices in order to receive federal crop insurance benefits. The Farm Bill also includes programs designed to prevent soil erosion and improve water quality, while protecting the ability of farmers and foresters to develop wildlife habitats on their land. Additionally, the bill expands opportunities for conservation organizations and local communities to partner with farmers to maintain watersheds and wildlife habitats.

Nutrition, Local Food, and Schools

In both urban and rural low-income communities, many people lack reasonable access to nutritious and affordable food. The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes loans and grants to improve access to healthy foods in these “food deserts.” At the same time, the bill  established a new initiative  to provide incentives to low-income families  to help them afford to buy fruits and vegetables  The Farm Bill also expands support for local food projects such as farmers markets and food hubs, urban greenhouses, community gardens, and community-based nutrition education that will help address food security and support local economies. Finally, the bill provides new resources and investments for organic agriculture, a growing sector of our farm economy.

Growing the Rural Economy

Senator Stabenow believes that when we grow things and make things in Michigan, we create jobs in Michigan. As a result, Stabenow lead the effort to helps create jobs and support Michigan’s rural economy by providing significant resources for rural development and renewable energy initiatives in the Farm Bill. The bill supports growth in bio-based manufacturing to create rural agriculture and urban manufacturing jobs. It includes research to promote the commercialization of new agricultural innovations and the resources to help rural communities upgrade crumbling infrastructure.

Funding provided through the Farm Bill will help to meet the demand for improvements to our rural water systems, as well as expanding broadband internet access to rural communities without broadband service. Additionally, the bill continues programming which has helped nearly 4,000 farmers, ranchers, and rural business owners install renewable and energy efficient systems.

Opportunities for Beginning Farmers

The future of American agriculture depends on the next generation of farmers and ranchers. In order to help those looking to start their careers in agriculture, the bill continues to fund education, training, outreach, and mentoring programs for new farmer and ranchers. Additionally, the 2014 Farm Bill makes significant strides in increasing lending to beginning farmers by expanding eligibility, removing term limits on guaranteed lending, and strengthening microloans for beginning farmers. The bill also makes improvements to crop insurance that will lower the cost of crop insurance for new farmers. Finally, the 2014 Farm Bill makes veterans a priority by helping them start new agricultural businesses.