Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced today that the Farm Bill has passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. The bill reduces the deficit by $24 billion, strengthens the crop insurance program, eliminates direct payments, supports dairy producers, and includes a strong energy title as well as strong conservation programs. Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which is responsible for crafting the Farm Bill.
“Today’s bipartisan vote is a major step forward for a strong, long-term Farm Bill that is critical to moving our economy forward,” Klobuchar said.“I worked hard to ensure that this legislation provides farmers and ranchers with the certainty and support they need while strengthening conservation programs and saving $24 billion, and I will continue to push this legislation forward and make sure this bill gets done.”
Klobucharsuccessfully included a number of provisions in the bill to support Minnesota’s farmers and ranchers:
Boosting Conservation, Research, Rural Development and Homegrown Energy
The Senate-passed Farm Bill includes an amendment led by Klobuchar to fund regional conservation efforts, provide support to agricultural research, to address the backlog of Rural Development waste water loans, and support the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program. Klobuchar’s amendment accomplishes this while still ensuring the Farm Bill saves $24 billion, exceeding the target of $23 billion.
Supporting Beginning Farmers and Ranchers
The Farm Bill includes Klobuchar’s provisions that would help beginning farmers and ranchers access crop insurance by reducing the cost of insurance by 10 percent and eliminating administrative fees for these producers in their first five years. The provision also helps beginning farmers get more coverage from the crop insurance program by changing the formula used to determine a producer’s expected production yield when they don’t have a complete established production history for a crop. Crop insurance premiums are based on a farmer or rancher’s previous production history, putting beginning producers at a disadvantage and discouraging them from participating in the program altogether, leaving them more vulnerable to disasters.
Klobuchar’s second provision would allow beginning producers to graze cattle on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres without a reduction in payments for the CRP landowner. Managed grazing can be beneficial for wildlife, encourage biodiversity, and help control invasive nonnative species and quality of vegetative cover. Waiving the penalty for allowing beginning farmers and ranchers to graze on CRP acres will help beginning producers get a start while providing valuable ecological benefits on CRP land.
Helping Pork and Poultry Producers Reduce Catastrophic Losses
Pork and poultry producers are exposed to trade and food safety disruptions to their export markets, which contributes to the importance of addressing the issue of catastrophic losses. Klobuchar included a provision in the Senate-passed Farm Bill that would require a feasibility study for insuring swine producers against catastrophic losses, and she also cosponsored a provision that would require a feasibility study for insuring turkey and chicken producers against catastrophic losses.
Klobuchar has fought to keep international markets open to U.S. pork producers. Following Russia’s decision in 2009 to refuse U.S. pork products, Klobuchar sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he use all available means to restore the normal trade of U.S. pork to Russia. Klobuchar also worked with her colleagues to successfully reopen the Chinese market to U.S. pork exports in 2010.
Improving Rural Transportation and Addressing Captive Shipping Issues
Captive shipping has been a concern in rural communities in Minnesota, where agricultural producers only have access to one rail company to ship their goods to market. Klobuchar’s provision would authorize a joint study by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Transportation to examine rural transportation issues, including captive shipping issues, to help farmers and ranchers move their products more quickly and efficiently. The provision requires the study to be updated every three years and directs the Secretary of Agriculture to report his recommendations for improvements in rural transportation policy to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.