Michigan Agriculture, Conservation, Healthy Food Groups Praise Chairwoman Stabenow’s Bipartisan 2014 Farm Bill

Monday, February 10, 2014

Michigan agricultural, conservation, healthy food and business groups today widely praised the 2014 Farm Bill, written by U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. The Farm Bill passed the Senate with a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32. President Obama signed the bill February 7 at Michigan State University, the country's first land grant college and a national leader in agriculture research.

Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, said: "Senator Stabenow has been tireless in her support of Michigan's priorities in the farm bill. She has been instrumental in protecting crop insurance and other vital programs for Michigan's agricultural producers. We thank Senator Stabenow for standing up to special interests, advocating for Michigan's agriculture sector and ensuring our industry has the tools and certainty it needs to continue growing and creating jobs."

Phil Korson, Executive Director of the Michigan Cherry Marketing Institute, said: "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."

Gildo Tori, Director of Public Policy for Ducks Unlimited Great Lakes/Atlantic Region, said: "Ducks Unlimited is extremely pleased with the Farm Bill signed into law. Senator Stabenow did a masterful job developing and negotiating a bill that generates great conservation benefits for Michigan's soil, water and wildlife. Hunters, anglers and conservationist feel fortunate to have programs that will advance a healthier Great Lakes."

Bob Thompson, President of the Michigan Farmers Union, said: "The Michigan Farmers Union applauds passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Finally our members, many of whom are small family farms that operate on razor thin margins, can make decisions with a measure of certainty. And because of this certainty, the rural communities our members live and work in will be made stronger. We recognize, however, that this would not have been possible had it not been for the leadership of Senator Stabenow and her relentless pressure to craft a comprehensive, bipartisan bill that is fair and equitable to all. The membership of the Michigan Farmers Union look forward to enjoying the fruits of the 2014 Farm Bill and stand ready to work together to enhance rural America."

Wayne H. Wood, President of the Michigan Farm Bureau, said: "We appreciate Sen. Debbie Stabenow's determination and hard work in moving this legislation forward through so many challenges over the past few years. This is welcome news for Michigan and across the country. Sen. Stabenow's worked like a farmer to keep this bill moving forward, making fixes and fine-tuning all the little moving parts of the program and policies. Her strong will and perseverance are qualities our Michigan farmers both share and appreciate."

Oran Hesterman, President and CEO of Fair Food Network, said: "This Farm Bill helps provide healthier, more sustainable food options for all of us. The bill supports innovative programs like Double Up Food Bucks, to increase access to healthy fruits and vegetables for families in need, while supporting farmers. I also want to thank Sen. Stabenow for ensuring the integrity of the food assistance program, which is critical to the food security of low-income Americans. I'm glad that Congress came together and passed this bill along bipartisan lines."

Jim Zook, Executive Director of the Michigan Corn Growers Association, said: "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."

Diane Smith, Executive Director of the Michigan Apple Committee, said: "The Michigan Apple Industry is so thankful for the important work Chairwoman Stabenow has done in building the Farm Bill in a way that supports Michigan's economy and agriculture. In today's economic climate, and considering the 2012 season's crop losses, the 2014 Farm Bill is even more critical to the survival and growth of Michigan's agriculture industry."

Mike Wenkel, Manager of the Potato Growers of Michigan, said: "We appreciate the work that Senator Stabenow has done to highlight the strength and diversity of Michigan agriculture. Michigan's potato industry is on the rise and this farm bill gives potato growers the support we need to continue creating jobs and growing Michigan's economy."

Ken Nobis, President of the Michigan Milk Producers Association, said: "Michigan dairy producers applaud Senator Stabenow for her leadership in reducing the deficit while bringing much needed reforms to government. Dairy is one of Michigan's top agricultural commodity, and U.S. dairy exports have more than doubled in the last ten 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."

Kevin Korpi, Executive Director of the Michigan Forest Products Council, said: "The Farm Bill will propel Michigan's land based economy. The new law provides a framework for stable fiber supply and wood product markets. Thanks to Michigan US Senator Debbie Stabenow for her leadership on the issue. Because of the efforts of Senator Stabenow and her colleagues who supported the bill in Congress, Michigan's forest products industry will grow beyond the 154,000 jobs and $14 billion annually currently supported by the sector."

John Bakker, Executive Director of the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, the Michigan Onion Committee and the Michigan Carrot Committee, said: "Senator Stabenow has once again come through for Michigan agriculture. Her tireless efforts to bring together all of agriculture - large and small farms, row crops, specialty crops and animal agriculture and garner broad bi-partisan support in the process needs to be commended. The farmers that I represent are especially appreciative of the Specialty Crop title and the opportunities it creates for some of our smaller commodity groups and we agree with the senator that this is actually a jobs bill."

Val Vail-Shirey, Executive Director of the Michigan Floriculture Growers Council, said: "The Michigan Floriculture Growers Council applauds Chairwoman Stabenow for her bipartisan leadership on the 2014 Farm Bill. This legislation is a major boost to our state's $400 million floriculture industry, which supports thousands of jobs across Michigan."
Erin McDonough, Executive Director of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said: "This Farm Bill represents the single largest federal investment in private-lands conservation, and it contains strong provisions that will help America's producers meet the growing demand for food and fiber in an increasingly sustainable manner. The result is real conservation with multiple benefits for every part of Michigan - not the least of these is helping working landowners to stay on the land as stewards of America's legacy of natural resources. I want to thank Sen. Stabenow for sustaining and improving the integrity and effectiveness of these important conservation programs."
Glen Chown, Executive Director, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, said: "We express our heartfelt appreciation for Chairwoman Stabenow's work on the landmark Conservation Title provisions in the 2014 Farm bill. Additionally, the newly streamlined approach to conservation holds great promise for new program efficiencies and for more services to be 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."

Brian Price, Executive Director, Leelanau Conservancy, said: "Michigan and the nation owe Senator Stabenow a deep debt of gratitude for her leadership as Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee in passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill). Two arduous years of holding down the fort for this bipartisan achievement mean a stronger agricultural economy, meaningful conservation of productive farm lands and cleaner water resources. Her efforts have been nothing short of herculean, and we could not be more grateful to the Senator and her staff."

Gail Frahm, Executive Director of the Michigan Soybean Association, said: "Michigan is the second most agriculturally diverse state in the nation and our agriculture sector has been growing rapidly over the past 10 years. This farm bill will give Michigan farmers the certainty we need to invest in the future and take advantage of new opportunities to continue that growth. This farm bill is one more example of Senator Stabenow's ongoing commitment to Michigan agriculture."

Dave Armstrong, President and CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services, said: "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."

Joe Cramer, Executive Director of the Michigan Bean Commission, said: "Senator Stabenow deserves credit for listening to the concerns of Michigan agricultural leaders and farmers while passing a farm bill that 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."

Ray VanDriessche, Director of Community and Government Relations, Michigan Sugar Company, said: "I want to thank Sen. Stabenow for putting together a critically important bill that will grow Michigan agriculture, strengthen Michigan's rural communities and create new jobs across the state. The bill saves billions of dollars while providing greater certainty for Michigan sugar producers. The Farm Bill is an important opportunity to further grow Michigan's thriving agriculture economy, invest in our rural communities, and create new jobs on and off the farm."

Jennifer McKay, Policy Specialist, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, said: "Agriculture and land management play significant roles in impacting the health of the Great Lakes. If the region is to have a chance at saving the prized Great Lakes from ecosystem failure we must address nutrient and sediment pollution from agriculture. Fortunately, the Farm Bill does just that by encouraging farmers to use conservation practices that keep soil on the land and fertilizer out of the water. It funds programs that improve air and water quality, recharge groundwater aquifers, and create fish and wildlife habitat, thereby providing meaningful benefits to the overall health of our Great Lakes. We are lucky to have an agricultural champion in Senator Stabenow, and appreciate her leadership in standing up for conservation programs in this Farm Bill."