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Senators from the region tout their chamber's new farm bill draft

Senators from across the region from both parties were quick to applaud the draft farm bill released on Friday, June 8 by the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The Senate moved forward on its own bill after the House failed to pass its version, in part over disputes regarding immigration and nutritional assitance.

“We continue working to put in place the strongest possible farm bill for our producers,” said Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D. “We worked hard to ensure that the Senate’s draft farm bill supports our priorities, including strong crop insurance and improving the counter-cyclical safety net, supporting agriculture research and ensuring that farm country has the tools they need to succeed. We look forward to marking up this legislation next week in the committee so we can get the farm bill to the Senate floor as soon as possible.”

“The Farm Bill touches the lives of virtually every American and is vital to our state’s economy,” said Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn. “This bill will provide important stability and predictability to Minnesota farmers, ranchers and rural communities into the future, and also sustain tens of thousands of Minnesota jobs.  Just as important, it will strengthen food access for thousands of Minnesota families and school children who without it would go hungry. In addition, this bill will expand development of renewable energy, bolster rural economic development, and guide our state’s important forestry industry. Finally, it will support conservation efforts, provide funding for ag research, and expand resources for beginning, veteran and organic farmers.”

“This is a good Farm Bill that is a result of Democrats and Republicans working together and is critical to moving our economy forward. I worked hard to ensure there is a strong safety net for farmers, important conservation provisions, legislation to protect our farm animals from harm and protect our farmers from economic hardship, and support for dairy farmers. I will continue to push this Farm Bill forward to ensure our rural communities have the resources and certainty they need to grow and thrive,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said.

“After listening and working with North Dakota farmers and ranchers over several years, this bipartisan Senate Farm Bill is a big win for our state and all of rural America,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said. “Our farm economy faces many challenges, from natural disasters to uncertain trade policies. Our bill would give our farmers the certainty they need to make important operational decisions and support critical safety net programs like crop insurance. ... As the Senate has historically done, we drafted a Farm Bill that has strong support from Republicans and Democrats so it can pass and maintains the strong rural-urban coalition that makes this important bill possible.”

“Farmers and ranchers are already dealing with uncertain markets and commodity prices that are just half of what they were five years ago,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. “The last thing we need to do is to sow greater confusion and uncertainty into these hardworking people’s lives. Ask anyone in the agriculture community, and they’ll tell you that we need a new farm bill, and this draft is a big step in the right direction. I look forward to considering this bill in the Agriculture Committee, a process that has historically been a bipartisan effort – and something I hope we’re able to continue this year through final passage of the farm bill."

“As a member of the Agriculture Committee, I will continue to work with my colleagues during the bill markup next week. I look forward to working with Chairman Pat Roberts and the other members of the committee to provide certainty and predictability for our Nebraska agriculture producers who feed the world," said Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

Politicians weren't the only ones cheering the release of the bill draft. A variety of other organization's also released their thoughts.

“America’s farmers and ranchers are facing an economic storm across the countryside, so the release today of the Senate Farm Bill is a crucial step to move the very important farm bill process forward. Farm income is at a decade low. Farm debt is on the rise and international markets for our farm goods are in jeopardy. The Senate Agriculture Committee, led by Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, have worked hard to address those economic challenges and assemble a bipartisan bill that provides the clarity, policy certainty and vital risk protection tools that our farmers need now more than ever. We look forward to next week’s markup of the bill and to working with the Senate to move this farm bill forward. It is important that the Senate bill strike a balance that will help set the overall congressional tone for getting the farm bill done this year," said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president.

“There hasn’t been a more turbulent time for family farmers in thirty years—significantly depressed farm prices, domestic market uncertainty, distressed trade relations, and increasingly devastating weather events have created a fraught and stressful climate in agriculture. Times like these require the certainty of a farm bill and an adequate safety net for family farmers," said Roger Johnson, president of National Farmers Union. “The Senate’s draft text of the 2018 Farm Bill makes significant improvements over the current version of the House bill. Nonetheless, we will encourage the Senate to make important improvements to the farm safety net and to programs that enhance long-term sustainability and access to markets for family farmers and ranchers.”

Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, said his group still believes "the Senate bill does not go nearly far enough to rein in farm subsidy programs." But there are things they do like. "Unlike the partisan House bill, the bipartisan Senate bill preserves funding for anti-hunger, conservation, and energy programs. It also provides new mandatory funding for programs that link farmers with local consumers and that support organic farmers. Although far more conservation spending is needed to address the health impacts posed by farm pollution, the Senate bill includes important reforms that will better target and leverage conservation programs to protect sources of drinking water," Faber said.

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