FARM BILL PROVIDES GOOD BALANCE FOR FARMERS, CONSUMERS
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, praised the state's congressional delegation for its support of farmers following Friday's passage of the farm bill in the House of Representatives by a vote of 231-191.
"In the months leading up to this vote, all seven Alabama congressmen have been responsive to the needs of the state's farmers and have worked for a bill that addresses the needs of agriculture while enhancing food security, conservation and nutrition programs for all Americans," said Federation National Affairs Director Keith Gray. "The House-passed farm bill accomplishes these goals by making significant new investments in agriculture and environmental programs at a total cost that is $20 billion less than the previous farm bill."
Gray praised Congressmen Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, and Artur Davis, D-Montgomery, for supporting the bill and helping to defeat amendments that would have stripped the safety net for farmers.
"It was important to our farmers that Congress maintained the current agriculture safety-net," said Cramer. "While this bill makes reforms to many farm programs, it continues to provide various federal resources and support our farmers need to make it through difficult crop seasons."
Among the reforms included in the House-passed farm bill is $1.7 billion in funding for fruit and vegetable and horticultural crop producers. The commodity title also contains provisions that would make cotton more competitive by more accurately determining world cotton prices, and it increases the loan rates for soybeans and wheat. In addition, the bill would provide a "green" payment to peanut producers who agree to rotate their peanut fields once every four years.
Payments limits also were increased for producers. There is a $1 million adjusted gross income threshold that would eliminate payments to producers who exceed the limit. The legislation also eliminates the three-entity rule, but increases the limits for direct payments and eliminates payment limits for marketing loans.
"The bill's nutrition and conservation titles are the best funded in farm bill history," said Gray, who also noted that it has a strong energy title with $2.5 billion in additional funding.
Further, the farmer's market nutrition program is expanded, as is the farm-to-school program and the fresh fruits and vegetables pilot program for school lunches. Honey is also included as an eligible commodity for purchase under the farmer's market programs.
The Wetlands Reserve Program was reauthorized, as was $500 million for a Regional Watershed Enhancement Program. The Alabama Farmers Federation supports this proposal as a way to increase irrigation and productivity in agriculture by the construction of on-farm reservoirs.
While Alabama's Republican congressmen objected to a last-minute provision that would fund portions of the farm bill by eliminating tax breaks for foreign companies doing business in the United States, Gray said their support for Alabama farmers never wavered.
"Our congressional delegation is united in its support for farmers," Gray said. "While they would have liked to see stronger provisions for peanut farmers and irrigation initiatives, the House-passed farm bill strikes a good balance in providing a safety net for farmers while ensuring a stable supply of food, fuel and fiber in a way that's fiscally and environmentally responsible."
Click here for more information about the House version of the Farm Bill.