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Agricultural News


Stabenow Conducts Hearing to Examine USDA’s Ongoing Implementation of 2014 Farm Bill

Wed, 07 May 2014 11:32:06 CDT

Stabenow Conducts Hearing to Examine USDA’s Ongoing Implementation of 2014 Farm Bill
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in February, is a critical jobs bill that touches all Americans, and its swift and efficient implementation is essential to creating jobs, supporting the 16 million Americans already working in agriculture, and growing the economy. Chairwoman Stabenow’s comments came during a Committee hearing examining USDA’s ongoing implementation efforts. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the Committee.


“In many senses, the ‘Farm Bill’ is a bit of a misnomer, as we all know, because this bill affects all Americans in many different ways. This is a bill that takes critical steps toward changing the paradigm of farm and food policy,” Stabenow said. “We worked hard to make sure the Farm Bill represents the diversity of American agriculture - from row crops to specialty crops to livestock to organics to local foods.”


The Farm Bill represents the most significant reform to food and agricultural policy in decades, saving taxpayers more than $23 billion by eliminating unnecessary subsidy programs and transitioning toward a responsible risk management system that supports farmers only when there is need. The bill also streamlines and consolidates programs to end duplication and make programs more efficient. These reforms allow for the strengthening of key initiatives that help farmers and small businesses reach new markets and create American jobs.


Chairwoman Stabenow thanked Secretary Vilsack for being “a compelling advocate for passage of the Farm Bill,” and said the bill’s scope is broad and affects Americans in communities both rural and urban - which is why USDA’s implementation efforts are critical.


“We passed a very strong permanent livestock disaster assistance program … We have strengthened and expanded opportunities for crop insurance, the number one request of farmers across America. We have increased support for several organic programs, which is one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture. We once again provided a strong specialty crop title - supporting nursery and floriculture as well as the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other products you will find in the produce aisle of the supermarket … I'm very proud that this Committee and our Colleagues in the House worked together to give our farmers and ranchers the support they need to continue producing the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.”


The bill makes historic investments in bioenergy production, research, local and healthy food initiatives, organics and protects critical assistance for families who need temporary help putting food on the table. The bill also represents the biggest investment the country makes in conservation programs and is supported by hundreds of conservation groups across the country. The Farm Bill strengthens existing conservation programs by increasing their efficiency, and creates new initiatives like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which will bring together public and private funds to better assist farmers conserve land and water resources.


Notably, the bill emphasizes the need for greater agricultural research by creating a new foundation dedicated to boosting resources for continued agricultural innovation.


“I'm also very excited about the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that we created, which will combine public and private dollars to make sure we have the funding streams necessary to continue to solve problems and create opportunities through research and new innovation. This new Foundation really is about the future and I look forward, Mr. Secretary, to working with you as the distinguished board members are appointed and the Foundation begins its work.”


Additional information about the 2014 Farm Bill can be found by clicking here. An archived webcast of the hearing can be viewed on the Committee’s website at http://ag.senate.gov.


Below are Chairwoman Stabenow’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
May 7, 2014

Good morning, and thank you all for being here. The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry will now come to order.


Thank you, Secretary Vilsack, for being a compelling advocate for passage of the Farm Bill. We also greatly appreciate your excellent staff providing critical technical assistance for us throughout the long process, and your personal help in developing a dairy title that was workable both politically and most importantly, from a policy perspective for our farmers.


Over a three year period, this Committee worked to put together a Farm Bill that reforms agricultural programs, cuts spending, and supports the 16 million people whose jobs rely on the strength of American agriculture.


In many senses, the “Farm Bill” is a bit of a misnomer, as we all know, because this bill affects all Americans in many different ways.


This is a bill that takes critical steps toward changing the paradigm of farm and food policy.


We worked hard to make sure the Farm Bill represents the diversity of American agriculture - from row crops to specialty crops to livestock to organics to local foods.


We passed a very strong permanent livestock disaster assistance program that, unfortunately, had to be used almost immediately after passage. We eliminated Direct Payments in favor of strengthening risk management tools and expanding opportunities for crop insurance-the number one request of farmers across America.


We have increased support for several organic programs, which is one of the fastest growing segments of American agriculture. We once again provided a strong specialty crop title - supporting nursery and floriculture as well as the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other products you will find in the produce aisle of the supermarket.


I am particularly proud of the Conservation Title and the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which will bring together public and private funds to better assist farmers conserve our land and water resources.


I'm also very excited about the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that we created, which will combine public and private dollars to make sure we have the funding streams necessary to continue to solve problems and create opportunities through research and new innovation. This new Foundation really is about the future and I look forward, Mr. Secretary, to working with you as the distinguished board members are appointed and the Foundation begins its work.


This Farm Bill is also a rural development bill that will help small communities build safe drinking water systems or access affordable broadband Internet service. It also encourages rural leaders to work together on regional economic strategies, which will not only make the most of Federal dollars, but also help small towns attract business investment and jobs.


I'm also very excited about the opportunities we have created through our energy title that will support job creation in the growing sector of biobased manufacturing, as well as the next generation of biofuels to continue building America’s energy independence.


I'm also proud of our nutrition title which expands food access for families in need and provides incentives and education related to healthy food choices in both urban and rural communities. Food assistance is a critical lifeline for families in need, giving them temporary help to keep food on the table. I am pleased to see the most recent Congressional Budget Office estimates say that SNAP spending is continuing to decline the right way - now saving an additional $24 billion more than previously estimated. I’ve always said the best way to reduce SNAP spending is by improving the economy and helping people get good paying jobs.


I'm very proud that this Committee and our Colleagues in the House worked together to give our farmers and ranchers the support they need to continue producing the safest, most abundant and most affordable food supply in the world.


Our farmers truly are feeding the world, which is why the Farm Bill expands export opportunities for our producers. In fact, this bill creates the first-ever Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade. I’m looking forward to working with you, Mr. Secretary, to make sure this new position is structured in a meaningful way to be an advocate for your department and U.S. producers.


It has been a long road to get to this implementation hearing, and I would like to say thank you to my partner through much of this difficult process-my ranking member, the Senator from Mississippi. I appreciate his friendship and his hard work throughout this endeavor.



   

 

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