The Senate voted to approve the Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642) on Tuesday following last week’s passage in the House, which sends legislation to the White House to be signed into law.
Response from multiple agriculture groups was mostly positive. Following the announcement that the Senate had passed the newest farm bill and it awaited President Obama’s signature, many agricultural organizations began issuing statements regarding the bill’s passage. Many were urging President Obama to sign the bill into law.
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack made the following statement on passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014:
"Today's action will allow the proud men and women who feed millions around the world to invest confidently in the future. Our communities will have additional support to attract new economic opportunity and create jobs. During difficult times, children, working families, seniors and people with disabilities will have access to nutritious food. The potential of new products, treatments and discoveries will be strengthened through new agricultural research. Renewed conservation efforts will protect our fields, forests and waters creating new tourism options. This legislation is important to the entire nation.
Building on the historic economic gains in rural America over the past 5 years, this bill will accomplish those goals while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. While no legislation is perfect, this bill is a strong investment in American agriculture and supports the continued global leadership of our farmers and ranchers."
The new farm bill contained numerous provisions that will be beneficial for Agricultural Retailers Association membership including the protection of a robust safety net, needed reform in the conservation title that will allow retailers to better serve their grower customers, and an avenue for growers and retailers to voice concerns on chemical security regulations for agricultural products.
Although ARA remains extremely disappointed that the voice of the overwhelming majority was outweighed by a minority opinions on regulatory reform issues such as NPDES permitting; ARA says the passing of this legislation is a victory for ARA and its membership.
Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “The American Farm Bureau Federation commends the Senate for passing the new five-year farm bill with clear, bipartisan support. America’s farmers and ranchers are one step closer to having the certainty needed – and provided by the farm bill – to make planting and farm business decisions.
“The farm bill provides farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming year, allowing them to continue with their business of providing food and jobs for America. We are particularly pleased with provisions in the 2014 farm bill to provide risk management to fruit and vegetable farmers and to support livestock farmers during disasters.
“Farm Bureau now looks forward to bringing the legislation across the finish line with the president’s signature and working with USDA to get the new farm bill implemented as soon as possible.”
The American Farmland Trust praised final Congressional adoption of the new farm bill that makes the biggest reform in agricultural policy in years, according to Andrew McElwaine, president and CEO of AFT.
“The new Farm Bill requires farmers who receive crop insurance premium assistance to have a conservation plan which helps protect erodible soil and wetlands,” said McElwaine. “Conservation compliance in past has been applied to over 140 million acres helping farmers save 295 million tons of soil per year. An estimated 1.5 million to 3.3 million acres of vulnerable wetlands have not been drained as a result of this compliance provision.”
The bill includes a number of other American Farmland Trust's legislative priorities that will help preserve agricultural land, promote sound farming practices, and help keep farmers on the land, including--
- The investment of $2 billion in conservation easements which helps limit the loss of our nation's working farms and ranch lands to non-farm uses; and
- Priorities like Beginning Farmers and Farmers Markets with over $250 million in funding to support opportunities for farmers and consumers. "As with any compromise there are pros and cons, but on the whole we congratulate Congress for coming together to craft a bill. We look forward to President Obama making the bill law,” said McElwaine.
The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) thanked the U.S. Senate for passing an ICBA-advocated farm bill to strengthen rural America, farmers and ranchers, and the community banks that serve them.
“ICBA thanks the Senate for passing a five-year farm bill to provide stability to rural communities and the community banks that serve them,” said Bill Loving, ICBA chairman and president and CEO of Pendleton Community Bank in Franklin, W.Va. “Passing this legislation has been an extraordinary effort by Congress to provide a long-term framework for our nation’s agricultural and rural policies. ICBA and community bankers in rural communities across the nation look forward to seeing this measure signed into law.”
The National Corn Growers Association thanked members of the Senate for their passage, with a 68-32 vote, of the 2014 farm bill.
“We’re happy to see the farm bill pass the Senate and are looking forward to seeing it signed and implemented,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre. “It was a long time coming for a bill so important for promoting stability in farm policy while saving taxpayers money and feeding the hungry. While it’s not perfect, we’re pleased to see the bill contains many provisions we’ve been working hard for over the years.”
Barbre in particular pointed out that the new legislation provides the farmers the option to participate in either the revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage program (with county or farm-level options) or a Price Loss Coverage program with fixed reference prices. The ARC will provide a band of coverage for 76 to 86 percent of the benchmark revenue.
Among other specific provisions, the bill:
• Eliminates controversial direct payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new World Trade Organization challenges.
• Consolidates 23 previous conservation programs into 13, and focuses conservation efforts on working lands. It also ties conservation compliance for wetlands and highly erodible land to premium support for crop insurance.
• Maintains authorizations for important agricultural research programs, including AFRI, as well as including a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that will provide a structure and mandatory funding for new public/private partnerships and investments that will further USDA’s research mission.
• Maintains authorizations and funding levels for export promotion, including the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program and the Market Access Program (MAP).
• Continues the combined authorization of both agricultural and nutrition programs, a linkage that has been essential in enacting every farm bill since 1974.
The Missouri Corn Growers Association (MCGA) extended its appreciation to Missouri's congressional delegation after the passage of the farm bill, known as the Agricultural Act of 2014.
"We are grateful our nation's leaders were finally able to come to an agreement on this long-overdue measure," said MCGA President Jim Stuever of Dexter, Mo. "We would especially like to thank Missouri's congressional delegation for their support on the issue. With both senators and all but one representative voting in favor of the bill, we are confident our leaders understand the importance of Missouri farmers and recognize the state's number one economic driver."
Kathryn Boor, food scientist and the dean of Cornell University’s top-ranked College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, commended Congress for passing a farm bill.
Boor said, "Agriculture is a cornerstone of our economy, and having a farm bill in hand offers stability to farmers, producers, and consumers alike. This is an important accomplishment, and though it took too long for us to arrive here, Congress can count this as a success.
“The elimination of the direct payment program and the modifications in crop insurance resources do not change a fundamental truth – farming is an enterprise filled with risk, and farmers, regardless of the scale of their business, must be forward-thinking and proactive in their efforts, all of which culminate in the food on our table."