FARMERS FEDERATION APPLAUDS SENATE PASSAGE OF FARM BILL
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 10 -- The U.S. Senate’s passage of a farm bill Monday night is encouraging news for Alabama farmers, who planted this year’s crop not knowing the future of commodity and conservation programs.
“We appreciate the Senate’s swift passage of the farm bill,” said Mitt Walker, director of National Legislative Programs for the Alabama Farmers Federation. “Farmers need the certainty of a five-year farm bill so they can make planting and financial decisions. Our focus now shifts to the House of Representatives, where we expect vigorous debate as members begin considering the House Agriculture Committee's version of the farm bill next week.”
The Senate bill, known as the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013, passed with a 66-27 vote. It cuts spending by $24 billion while strengthening federal crop insurance and preserving programs to protect farmers from low prices and crop failures. Under the Senate bill, farmers would be able to choose between a revenue protection plan known as Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC), and a price protection program known as the Adverse Market Program (AMP). Both the House and Senate versions eliminate the direct payment program.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., was successful in getting an amendment included expanding access to a federal irrigation program. It would allow farmers who’ve never irrigated their crops to apply for assistance under the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP). Alabama lags behind other Southern states in irrigated farm land, utilizing just 2.5 percent of available water, according the state’s climatologist.
A late amendment to the Senate bill would increase crop insurance premiums for farmers with annual adjusted gross incomes of $750,000 or more.
The Senate’s farm bill would trim the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, by $4 billion over 10 years. The House Agriculture Committee version calls for $20 billion in cuts. About three-fourths of farm bill spending is for nutrition programs. Less than 20 percent goes to traditional farm programs.
For more information about the Senate farm bill, visit http://www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill.