Farm organizations across the country welcome the U.S. Senate’s overwhelming, bipartisan passage of the farm bill—the Federal Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013.

Now they await action from the House of Representatives, which may not come as easily, and then a compromise, which may be more contentious still. The full House is scheduled to consider the legislation the week of June 17.

House leadership is hopeful. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., hopes to offer President Obama a bill to sign by the August recess. “(The) Senate vote brings us one step closer to having a new, five-year farm bill in place this year,” Peterson said. “Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran did an excellent job, and I applaud their leadership.

“This process has gone on far too long but with the strong bipartisan support in the Senate, I’m optimistic the House will be able to consider our farm bill next week. It’s going to be difficult but if everything stays on track, I believe it’s possible to get a bill to the President before the August recess, finally providing some certainty for our farmers, ranchers and consumers.”

Major farm organizations applaud the effort.

A statement from The National Cotton Council expressed appreciation for “the timely action by the U.S. Senate in approving the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 by a 66-27 vote. The NCC also applauded “the strong leadership of Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

“The Senate approval of this farm bill is an important step toward providing producers with critically important predictability and tools to manage risk,” NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson, a South Texas cotton producer, said. “Producers and their lenders need sound, long-term farm programs to sustain investments and to make market-oriented decisions.”

He said the cotton provisions in the Senate’s bill offer significant reform with a greater focus on risk management, while at the same time contributing budget savings to deficit reduction. The policies in the Senate’s farm bill are consistent with recommendations sought by the Brazilian and U.S. cotton industries and should provide a basis on which the United States and Brazil can negotiate a permanent solution to the World Trade Organization case.

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“National Sorghum Producers applauds the hard work done by the Senate Ag Committee and the entire chamber delegation to successfully pass its version of the farm bill,” said Terry Swanson, NPS chairman and a farmer from southeast Colorado.

“As attention turns to the House, we are to the point where we need to work together to get a farm bill across the finish line. This has been a long, tough process, but we look forward to working with our members of Congress in the coming weeks to bring this bill to its completion.”

National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President Bing Von Bergen, a farmer from Moccasin, Mont., also praised the Senate’s work. “NAWG and the wheat growers we represent in every region of the country applaud the Senate for passing its version of the farm bill Monday on a 66 to 27 vote.”

Von Bergen also noted the contribution a strong farm program will have on the U.S. economy, including “support for more than 16 million U.S. jobs. Importantly, the bill passed today cuts $24 billion over existing spending.”

He also welcomed the bipartisan support of the bill. “It has become a rare day when leaders of the two parties come together on truly bipartisan legislation,” he said. “We are grateful Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran were so committed to bringing their caucuses together to ensure our growers have strong farm policy over the next five years. We are hopeful progress will continue and a new farm and food law can be signed by Sept. 30.”

Texas Farm Bureau

Kenneth Dierschke, Texas Farm Bureau president, praised the Senate for passing the farm bill but said he is “disappointed in dual 'no' votes from (Senators) John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Republicans. Political rhetoric claiming to support farmers does nothing to help the future of agriculture. This "no" vote on a major farm bill cannot be justified as pro-farmer in any way.

He said the farm and ranch families of Texas, however, “are very pleased with the passage of a farm bill by the United States Senate. This legislation sharply reduces agriculture spending, but still preserves a safety net for farmers. We urge Texas members of the House to vote "yes" when the farm bill is considered.”

The National Grange indicated the job is only partly complete and is waiting on “the House for action on the nearly $1 trillion piece of legislation that affects every American directly or indirectly.

“While we're happy that the Senate passed their version of the farm bill, we can't help but feel a slight sense of deja vu. Last June we saw the Senate pass their version of the farm bill but the House didn't even get theirs to the floor," National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright said. Grace hopes recent reports that the House will bring their bill up for a vote next week will come to fruition.

“I'm hopeful the House will pass its version of the bill this month, but realistically, we are still a long way from getting American agriculture a full five-year farm bill," Boatright said. "We all have to keep working to let our elected representatives know how important the farm bill is to producers and consumers."

National Grange President Ed Luttrell said the farm bill is an essential piece of the puzzle in stability in the market.

A United Fresh statement noted that the Federal Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013“addresses many priorities critical to United Fresh members, including programs supporting essential research, market promotion and nutrition, and continues their support of specialty crops that was established in the 2008 farm bill.

“We congratulate the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate leadership for moving forward with this legislation that is so important to the nation’s produce providers,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh CEO. “The bill supports fruits and vegetables in ways that will boost consumption and help provide healthful options to Americans – through block grants, nutrition programs and pest and disease research. We’re looking forward to working with the House to preserve funding for these critical fruit and vegetable programs.”

 

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