Ohio Senators: Brown, a ‘yea,’ Portman, a ‘nay’
NFU supportive, process moves to a dysfunctional House
The 2012 version of the Farm Bill which delivers $23 billion in deficit reduction and moves the agricultural safety net away from direct payments and toward a beefed up crop insurance program as two of its major features passed the U.S. Senate today by a vote of 64-35.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D-OH), voted for the measure. Sen. Rob Portman, (R-OH), voted against the bill.
“The bipartisan, Senate-passed farm bill is the most significant reform of U.S. agriculture in decades – saving taxpayers $23 billion while investing in Ohio’s number one industry,” Brown said.
“This farm bill is forward thinking, yet realistic. The centerpiece of the bill’s deficit reduction efforts is based on a bill I authored with my colleague, Sen. (John) Thune, (R-SD) that would end the era of paying farmers for crops that they don’t grow and replace direct payments with market-based supports that’s more responsive to farmers and taxpayers. This farm bill is a jobs and innovation bill, an economic relief and development bill, and it affects every American every day,” added Brown, the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in 40 years.
The National Farmers Union issued two statements today – one urging passage of the bill and one congratulating senators on the achievement after its passage. NFU President Roger Johnson said he’s pleased with many of the provisions in the Senate bill such as mandatory funding for renewable energy programs. Although supportive of the bill’s move away from direct payments to support agriculture in the U.S., Johnson remains concerned about long-term price declines.
“The Agriculture Risk Coverage program provides a critical safety net for farmers when they are threatened by losses,” said Johnson. “However, I remain deeply concerned that the bill does not provide the level of long-term price protection that NFU has continually supported. Nonetheless, I appreciate the extraordinary effort and compromise crafting this legislation has required.”
Renewable energy funding is an important aspect of the marketplace for many of today’s farmers. Johnson pointed out that renewable energy projects generate new markets for farmers and spur the development of bio-based fuels and energy production.
Brown and other senators are touting what they call the “centerpiece” of deficit reduction measures in the Farm Bill: the new Agriculture Risk Coverage program. According to Brown’s office, ARC is a new approach to farm risk management and would end the era of fixed payments. These “direct payments” are replaced by a market-based system that relies on current crop-year data, market prices, and actual yields, making payments to farmers only when the market fails. In conversation and in the media, ARC is often referred to as “crop insurance.”
National farm policy still has a long way to go. Up next for the Farm Bill is the U.S. House of Representatives. NFU’s Johson is hopeful that members of Congress will act before the current Farm Bill expires.
“We look forward to working with members of the U.S. House of Representatives to get a farm bill passed, and then working with both chambers of Congress through a conference committee to complete a bill by the time the current farm bill expires on Sept. 30,” Johnson said.