ALABAMA FARMERS URGE CONGRESS TO PASS FARM BILL
MONTGOMERY, Ala., May 12 - The Alabama Farmers Federation, the state's largest farm organization, is calling on Congress to pass the farm bill agreed upon by conferees from the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and, if necessary, vote to override a presidential veto.
"The balanced, bipartisan farm bill developed in the conference committee is the result of months of work and provides funding for nutrition, conservation and production agriculture without new tax increases," said Federation President Jerry A. Newby, a Limestone County cotton, grain and cattle farmer. "We are especially pleased the conference report included language from the Farm Reservoir Act sponsored by Rep. Terry Everett (R-Rehobeth) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that would provide cost-share assistance for the construction of on-farm reservoirs to store water for use during periods of drought."
The bill also funds research and other programs to help fruit and vegetables growers and increases funding for the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides vouchers to senior citizens for the purchase of fresh produce, including locally produced honey. The bill would create a $3.8 billion disaster fund for farmers, something Alabama producers need to supplement crop insurance policies that are often inadequate to cover their losses. Additionally, it would establish a new conservation program for row crop producers.
Newby said the farm bill maintains the three-legged safety net of direct payments, marketing loans and counter-cyclical programs farmers need, while reforming the eligibility requirements for farmers who receive payments.
"Passage of the farm bill is critical for Alabama farmers and consumers, especially during uncertain economic times," Newby said. "Increased volatility in the commodity markets and skyrocketing fuel and fertilizer costs make it more important than ever that we have a long-term policy for food and agriculture," Newby said. "This bipartisan legislation increases support for hungry Americans, protects the environment and provides long-term security for farmers facing soaring production costs."
Newby praised the House and Senate Agriculture Committees for their work in addressing the Bush administration's concerns regarding financing the multi-year farm bill. Alabama Reps. Everett and Mike Rogers (R-Anniston) both currently serve on the House Agriculture Committee, and Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Mobile) worked extensively on the legislation before resigning from the House Ag Committee in February to take a seat on the House Appropriations Committee.
Click here for a one-page summary of the conference report