Lucas, Stabenow Proud of Farm Bill That is ‘Almost Miraculous,’ Confident in its Final PassageTue, 28 Jan 2014 15:05:54 CST
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow today addressed members of the media about the 2014 Farm Bill reported out of the Conference Committee.
Lucas emphasized the magnitude of the nearly three-year project and commended members of the House and Senate who worked on it.
“When you look at what we’ve accomplished, you have, quite literally, a commodity title that was written for farmers and ranchers-people who produce the food and fiber that feed this great nation and the world. We did it by-and don’t underestimate the magnitude of the reforms-ending the direct payment program, the old safety net completely.”
He spoke of how the bill would establish a new insurance-based approach that would pay crop producers only for weather-related disasters and would eliminate supply management for dairy farmers.
Lucas also said the nutrition title would also be significantly reformed under the new farm law.
“We have reasonable reforms that while they try to address loopholes left over from 1996, nonetheless, will assure that our fellow Americans who need help, who demonstrate that they meet the asset and income requirements, will get the help that they need. That safety net is maintained also.”
Lucas said the undertaking was enormous, the journey was long and torturous, but, in the end, he thinks the final product was worthwhile.
“If you look at the environment we were dealing in-the budget situation, the ongoing deficits-if you look at the political rancor that we have had to deal with in both houses and across the country, not only is this a good farm bill, this is almost a miraculous farm bill… but that’s what farmers and ranchers and consumers needed. That’s what we’re about as elected officials to the United States House and the United States Senate-do our work, do it in a way that surprises people positively, and almost create some miracles.”
In her remarks, Stabenow recapped the process all the way from its first discussions among both the House and Senate ag committees and traced it up through the final Conference Committee report. She said she was proud that the final bill embodied self-imposed cuts to the agriculture budget and, if followed by other agencies, would result in a large reduction in the federal deficit.
“We did what I think taxpayers and the citizens would like us to do in every part of the budget. We looked at everything. ‘Does it work? Does it not work? What should be changed?’ There’s about 100 different authorizations and programs we eliminated. In conservation we consolidated 23 programs down to 13 and basically put them in four buckets of flexibility while strengthening them and saving money… I think between the commodity title and disaster assistance and crop insurance we have addressed the needs of every part of America’s agriculture, to be honest with you. And that’s something we started out saying we wanted to work for every region and I believe we have done that.”
A rules vote was scheduled for today in the House of Representatives, and a final vote on the full bill will most likely come tomorrow, Lucas said. Stabenow said she has been assured the bill will be brought up swiftly by Senate President Harry Reid and indications are that President Obama will sign it.
You can listen to the full comments of Chairman Lucas and Chairwoman Stabenow by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
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