Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today called for the Farm Bill to be included in any end of the year deal on deficit reduction. In a bipartisan letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Klobuchar and 32 other senators said that any deal on the fiscal cliff should include the Farm Bill, which reduces the debt by $23 billion and provides critical support and certainty to farmers and ranchers in Minnesota and across the country. Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and worked to craft the 5-year, 2012 Farm Bill which passed the Senate in June with bipartisan support but has not received a vote in the House.
“Our country’s farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, and they need strong farm policies to ensure they can continue providing our nation with a safe and reliable food source,”the letter said. “These are some of the hardest workers in the United States, and it is our turn to show them Washington is fighting for rural America. Accordingly, we urge you to consider folding in the Senate’s strong bipartisan bill in any end-of-year package.”
The 2012 Farm Bill that passed the Senate in June strengthens the crop insurance program and also reauthorizes critical livestock disaster programs such as the Livestock Indemnity Program, which compensates ranchers at a rate of 75% of market value for livestock mortality caused by a disaster, and the Emergency Disaster Loan Program, which provides producers with low interest loans when a county has been declared a federal disaster area. The Farm Bill also includes four of Klobuchar’s provisions supporting farmers and ranchers, including provisions to help beginning farmers and ranchers gain better access to the critical crop insurance program as well as land for grazing cattle, as well as a provision requiring a feasibility study for insuring swine producers against catastrophic losses.
The text of the letter is below:
The Honorable Harry Reid The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Senate Minority Leader
S-221, The Capitol S-230, The Capitol
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
Last June, the Senate came together and passed a strong bipartisan farm bill that would help producers manage risk, create jobs and reduce the deficit and debt. It was not an easy task, but members from both sides of the aisle came together and passed farm policies that cut the deficit by over $23 billion while making smart, common-sense reforms that ensure the farm safety net works for both the American taxpayer and the American agricultural producer.
Our country’s farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, and they need strong farm policies to ensure they can continue providing our nation with a safe and reliable food source. Thankfully, the 2008 farm bill coverage for most programs extends throughout the 2012 crop year. But as the 2012 harvest rolls to an end, farmers and ranchers are already working with their bankers to plan for the 2013 crop. In many parts of the United States, they have already seeded their 2013 winter wheat.
Agriculture supports over 16 million jobs in our country and is the heart of many rural economies across the United States. In order for our farmers and ranchers to plan for their future, it is imperative that we provide them the certainty of a full five-year farm bill. While our farmers produce a domestic supply of food, fiber and fuel, American agricultural products also contribute to a trade surplus. Just this year, the U.S Department of Agriculture reported that agriculture exports for fiscal year 2013 are projected to reach a record of $143 billion in 2013, resulting in an agricultural trade surplus of over $26 billion.
While the increase in agriculture exports is welcomed news, our producers are still struggling from the extreme drought, spring deep freeze, and other weather disasters across the country this past season. To date, 2,196 counties are currently under primary USDA drought disaster designations. As the historic drought conditions persist, farmers could suffer from the impacts of the drought in the 2013 crop year as well. Congress has some serious challenges to meet before the end of the year; however, every challenge is an opportunity, including the farm bill which can help us cut the debt and create jobs.
With each passing day, the difficulty of enacting a farm bill before the end of this Congress grows. Congress must do the responsible thing and pass a full, five year reform farm bill. Accordingly, we urge you to consider folding in the Senate’s strong bipartisan bill in any end-of-year package.
American farmers and ranchers put affordable food on our tables, bring in dollars from around the globe with their world-class products, and continue in our strong agricultural tradition. These are some of the hardest workers in the United States, and it is our turn to show them Washington is fighting for rural America.