Reactions to Farm Bill
Created by rrummel on 2/5/2014 9:18:21 AM

Key Individuals and Farm Groups 

Reaction to Senate passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 were largely positive Tuesday afternoon - with the bill’s supporters calling on the President to swiftly sign the bill into law. The White House reports President Obama will sign the bill Friday during a visit to Michigan State University after he talks about the importance of the farm bill to America’s economy. In his statement Tuesday - President Obama said the farm bill approved by the House and Senate - while not perfect - will make a positive difference not only for the rural economies that grow America’s food - but for the nation. He said it will build on the historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, create new jobs and opportunities and protect the most vulnerable Americans. President Obama said the bill provides certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers - and contains a variety of commonsense reforms - including reforming and eliminating direct farm subsidies and providing assistance for farmers when they need it most.  He said the legislation will continue reducing our deficits without gutting the vital assistance programs millions of hardworking Americans count on to help put food on the table for their families - and it will support conservation of valuable lands, spur the development of renewable energy and incentivize healthier nutrition for all Americans. 

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Tuesday’s action will allow the proud men and women who feed millions around the world to invest confidently in the future. He says communities will have additional support to attract new economic opportunity and create jobs; children, working families, seniors and people with disabilities will have access to nutritious food during difficult times; the potential of new products, treatments and discoveries will be strengthened through new agricultural research; and renewed conservation efforts will protect our fields, forests and waters creating new tourism options. Vilsack says the Agricultural Act of 2014 will accomplish those goals while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Vilsack says 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. 

Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns says passage of the five-year farm bill will give the nation’s ag producers the risk management tools and certainty the need. While Johanns would have preferred stronger payment limits and a movement away from target prices - he says progress was made on those fronts. The former Agriculture Secretary says progress was also made to reform and streamline conservation programs and to end direct payments that paid farmers no matter what. 

Kansas Senator Jerry Moran says the farm bill will give producers the certainty they need to plan and do business for the next five years. He says consumers are best served when farmers and ranchers know the rules of the game and have the support they need to continue their work. But when it comes to regulatory reforms - Moran says the fight is far from over. He says he plans to keep country of origin labeling and GIPSA front and center this year. Moran says he’s committed to working with his colleagues to complete the work still needed on these issues and build on the farm bill’s provisions to make certain the U.S. remains the most food secure country in the world. 

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas commended Senate Ag leaders Debbie Stabenow and Thad Cochran for their efforts throughout the farm bill conference process. He says the ag leaders in both chambers worked together to give certainty and sound policy to agricultural producers, deliver taxpayers billions of dollars in savings and provide consumers the affordable and reliable food supply they have grown accustomed to. 

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson says Tuesday’s Senate vote showed it is possible to work together and get something done in Washington. As the House did last week - Peterson says the Senate approved the 2014 Farm Bill with strong, bipartisan support - providing farmers and ranchers with a strong safety net and the certainty they need for the next five years. He urges the President to quickly sign the bill into law. 

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says the Senate vote on the farm bill brings America’s farmers and ranchers another step closer to having the certainty needed to make planting and farm business decisions. He says 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. Farm Bureau - Stallman says - is particularly pleased with provisions in the legislation to provide risk management to fruit and vegetable farmers and to support livestock farmers during disasters. 

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the strong vote on the farm bill is a testament to the importance of the legislation to every region of the country. He says Congress did the hard work necessary to come together and pass a comprehensive, bipartisan five-year farm bill that enacts meaningful reforms and provides an effective safety net for farmers and needy Americans alike. According to Johnson - one of the best ways President Obama could expand opportunities for working families would be to sign this piece of legislation that benefits every sector of our economy. 

National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre says the nation’s corn growers are happy to see the farm bill approved by the Senate and look forward to seeing it signed and implemented. Though Barbre says the bill isn’t perfect - he says the bill contains many provisions NCGA’s been working hard for over the years. In particular - Barbre points to the option farmers have 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. NCGA also notes the maintained authorizations for important agricultural research programs - as well as maintained authorizations and funding levels for export promotion. 

American Soybean Association President Ray Gaesser notes Tuesday’s farm bill vote marks the culmination of years of advocacy by ASA and other farm groups on behalf of policies that help individual crops and the collective ag industry move forward. He says the final farm bill represents a true compromise that will benefit many crops, regions and aspects of American agriculture. Gaesser says soybean farmers have been invested in passing a bill that provides comprehensive risk management while avoiding potential market distortions - and ASA is confident this bill accomplishes that. Gaesser notes the bill includes a choice between a revenue program that covers both price and yield losses with county and farm level options - and a price support program which allows the optional purchase of insurance coverage under a Supplemental Coverage Option. The bill also eliminates Direct Payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new challenges from the World Trade Organization. 

National Cotton Council Chairman Jimmy Dodson says Congress has demonstrated strong bipartisanship on a fiscally responsible measure that will help the nation’s farmers manage risk and provide them with stability so they can continue providing Americans with safe, abundant and affordable food and fiber. He says a strong production agriculture sector is essential to the nation’s security and economic well-being. Dodson adds that the comprehensive five-year farm bill includes provisions important to the viability of the U.S. cotton industry. That includes authorization of a new crop insurance product tailored to cotton production and the inclusion of a transition program for the 2014 crop year. According to Dodson - these provisions are an important step in achieving a final resolution of the long-standing Brazil World Trade Organization case. Dodson says the industry does have concerns over inclusion of instructions to the Secretary to propose changes in the management and labor criteria used to determine eligibility for commodity programs and the further reduction in the Adjusted Gross Income eligibility test. He notes the re-imposition of limitations on marketing loan benefits could disrupt orderly marketing in times of low prices. Still - NCC urges President Obama to sign the long-awaited bill into law. 

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance - which comprises 120 specialty crop organizations and 350 individual specialty crops grown across America - says the Agricultural Act of 2014 represents the most significant investment ever into the competitiveness of specialty crop producers and industry members as it includes an overall increase in investment of 55-percent over 2008 Farm Bill funding levels in critical specialty crop initiatives and programs. 

The United Fresh Produce Association notes the Agricultural Act of 2014 provides nearly four-billion dollars in funding for programs that benefit specialty crop production - including fresh produce. United Fresh Senior Vice President for Public Policy Robert Guenther says even though the farm bill process took many unexpected twists and turns - the strong, bipartisan support in Congress for fresh fruit and vegetable policies was consistent. He says farm bill programs for fruits and vegetables were maintained or strengthened throughout the long process - signaling that policymakers recognize the importance of the industry to the nutritional well-being of all Americans and to the overall U.S. economy. 

American Farmland Trust President and CEO Andrew McElwaine says the new farm bill includes a number of their legislative priorities that will help preserve agricultural land, promote sound farming practices and help keep farmers on the land. According to AFT - the investment of two-billion dollars in conservation easements helps limit the loss of the nation’s working farms and ranch lands to non-farm uses. AFT is also pleased that farmers who receive crop insurance premium assistance will be required to have a conservation plan which helps protect erodible soil and wetlands. 

The American Feed Industry Association is satisfied Congress will dedicate more than 600-million dollars in mandatory funding to vital basic and applied animal health and disease research - as well as crop protection, beginning farmer and various USDA research programs. AFIA Government Affairs Consultant Steve Kopperud says the association was also pleased to see the inclusion of the new public/private matching funds research initiative. In other areas - AFIA also highlights permanent livestock disaster assistance, full authorization for the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, the energy title, streamlining of conservation programs and recognition that restrictions sought by animal rights groups have no place in the farm bill. AFIA President and CEO Joel Newman says timely enactment of the legislation will provide the feed industry and agriculture across the board with the safety net it’s been lacking for far too long. 

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the farm bill will encourage further development in biofuels by continuing to fund essential programs such as the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Rural Energy for America Program and Biomass Crop Assistance Program. He says the bill helps create jobs in rural America and advances first and next generation biofuel production that will help improve our environment and reduce the nation’s dangerous addiction to foreign oil. 

Novozymes - the leading producer of enzymes that turn biomass into biofuels - is praising the inclusion of nearly 900-million dollars in dedicated funding for some of the nation’s most critical energy and job creation programs. Novozymes says the bill also expands biomass programs at USDA to include bio-based product and renewable chemical development - creating more opportunity for new jobs at the country’s growing biorefinery manufacturing hubs. Adam Monroe - Novozymes Regional President of the Americas - says America’s farmers are core to the innovation that’s driven down our dependence on foreign oil and this policy will help keep them doing it. Novozymes says the energy title funds USDA programs that help jumpstart additional biorefinery construction for advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals, dedicated energy crop feedstock development and consumer demand of biobased products -all encouraging further commercialization of the renewable industry.