President to Sign Farm Bill Friday

The Agricultural Act of 2014 has passed the Senate 68-32! This follows closely on the heels of the farm bill being passed the House by 251-166! Of course, now the report is expected to get to the President's desk for his signature before the bill officially becomes law. Congress and ag organizations alike are calling on the President to sign the bill into law without delay.

According to the White House, President Obama will travel to East Lansing, Mich., on Friday and sign the farm bill there.

The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the "farm bill" has streamlined spending reforms, while cutting approximately $8 billion in food stamp cuts as well as conservation and land programs. If you're curious to see the language and some "light" reading in 949 pages, you can find the report here.

A number of organizations and officials have expressed their appreciation of the farm bill being a step closer to completion.

“We appreciate the Senate’s decision to protect and strengthen the federal crop insurance program and not reduce its funding, as well as the approval of a commodity program that provides farmers varied safety net options,” said MFBF President Kevin Paap. “This proposed bill will encourage farmers to follow market signals. Most importantly, the bill is fiscally responsible.”

We are relieved and pleased to see the farm bill cross the finish line this afternoon,” said ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser. “Today’s vote is the culmination of years of advocacy by ASA and other farm groups on behalf of policies that help our individual crops and our collective industry move forward. We’ve invested a great deal of time and energy in this bill, and the final product represents a true compromise that will benefit many crops, regions and aspects of American agriculture.”

"I am pleased a majority of my House colleagues joined me in supporting a five-year, comprehensive farm bill. I appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped get us here," said House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas. "This is legislation we can all be proud of because it fulfills the expectations the American people have of us."

“We are one step closer to final passage of the farm bill and giving farmers what they need and deserve – security as they plan for the future,” said Doug Peterson, Minnesota Farmers Union President. “I want to thank Representative Peterson for his work as Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee, Representative Walz for his work on the conference committee, and Representatives McCollum, Kline, Paulsen, and Nolan for helping pass this common sense piece of legislation that protects farmers as they provide food, fuel and fiber for this country.”

Minnesota Representative Tim Walz also applauded the farm bill's passage.

“After years of procedural hold-ups and opposition, we are finally passing a badly needed, new, five-year Farm Bill into law. With compromise, no one gets everything they want and this bill is not perfect. That being said, this bill saves taxpayers approximately $23 billion, creates jobs, works to help new farmers fulfill their dreams of working the land, conserves critical wildlife and hunting habitat, and works to give consumers certainty at the grocery store and producers certainty to make long-term planning decisions in order to feed, clothe, and fuel the world. I was proud to support this common sense compromise so we can finally get this bill signed into law.”

While most ag groups and those in the ag industry have applauded the Senate and House coming to a compromise on a long-term farm bill, others are concerned there are particular issues that were not properly addressed, such as the Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). 

In fact, several of those in the meat industry, such as the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, along with the National Turkey Federation, are taking a stance against the entire farm bill as COOL revisions were not proposed. They claim failure to address COOL will likely waterfall into Canada and Mexico establishing heavy tarriffs on products, should the WTO declare the U.S. non-compliant in its review of the U.S. COOL rules on February 18th. 

Another bitter battle is the dairy title, particularly the Dairy Market Stabilization Program, as championed by Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson. Unfortunately, after House Speaker John Boehner declared he would strike down the farm bill if it included this program, it was dropped by conferees. Despite this, a compromise was made and the new proposed bill includes a national risk management tool, which allows farmers to insure against catastrophic economic conditions should milk prices plummet or commodity grain prices increase.

The fight for a strong, long-term security net for farmer is hopefully nearing its end as we look with anticipation for Congress to fully pass this five-year farm bill. Stay up to date on the latest here at KWOA.com and on the airwaves at AM 730 KWOA. 

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