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June 20, 2013   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 612-4212
June 20, 2013

MONTGOMERY, Ala., - Alabama's largest farm organization is urging the state's congressional delegation to vote in favor of a five-year farm bill being debated this week in the House of Representatives.

"Alabama farmers need the certainty of a farm bill in order to make wise planting and financial decisions," said Federation President Jimmy Parnell. "The House version of the bill increases accountability for farm and food stamp programs while cutting spending and maintaining a safety net for farmers. We are asking Alabama's congressmen to vote 'yes' on this important legislation."

The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (H.R. 1947) would save taxpayers $40 billion over 10 years by eliminating or reforming more than 100 programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps would account for half the cuts. About three-fourths of all farm bill spending goes to nutrition programs.

Under the House version of the bill, farmers would get protection from crop failures and extremely low prices by choosing either Revenue Loss Coverage (RLC) or Price Loss Coverage (PLC). The direct payment program for farmers would be eliminated, and enrollment of land in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) would be restricted.

"Alabama farmers understand the budget challenges facing our country and want to be part of the solution," Parnell said. "In previous farm bills, commodity and conservation programs have taken the lion's share of spending cuts. By recommending the first substantial reforms to food stamps since the 1990s, the House Agriculture Committee has shown a desire to limit the expansion of nutrition programs."

Alabama U.S. Reps. Mike Rogers, R-Anniston, and Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, serve on the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, serves as the Agriculture Subcommittee Chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

"Our congressional delegation has been extremely supportive of Alabama farmers," Parnell said. "While we understand some representatives would like to see additional reforms, it's critical the House pass a farm bill this year."

The 2008 farm bill expired in 2012, but funding for several programs ran out months earlier. Some provisions of the previous bill were extended in January as part of a package to avert the so-called fiscal cliff. However, Alabama farmers planted their crops this spring not knowing the future of commodity and conservation programs.

The Senate passed the farm bill June 10. Its version cuts spending by $24 billion over 10 years, including $4 billion from food stamps.

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