Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall today joined a bipartisan group of 33 senators to urge Senate leadership to include the Senate-passed 2012 Farm Bill as part of any end-of-year package.
In a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the senators wrote, “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.”
“Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities deserve far better than having the Farm Bill languish in Congress. The House has had the Senate bill as well as a bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee for months,” Bennet said. “The Senate bill provides billions of dollars in savings and makes critical reforms to programs that producers in my state rely upon. I am optimistic that we can get this done, and I hope Senate leadership will work with us on this effort.”
“The Farm Bill is critical to farmers, ranchers and foresters alike. It is truly unfortunate that my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives have refused to give the bipartisan, deficit-reducing Senate Farm Bill an up-or-down vote,” Udall said. “The Senate Farm Bill cuts spending, invests in critical programs and gives farmers much-needed certainty to plan ahead. We need to get the Farm Bill across the finish line by the end of this year. I hope Senate leadership joins me in this effort.”
The 2012 Farm Bill represents the most significant reforms in agricultural policy in decades. The bill ends direct payments, streamlines and consolidates programs, and reduces the deficit by $23 billion. It also strengthens top priorities that help farmers, ranchers, and small business owners continue to grow our economy.
Full Text of the Letter:
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 serious challenges to meet before the end of the year; 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.