Senate Approves Farm Bill Reauthorization

Posted on: June 25th, 2012 by NADO Admin

On June 21, the U.S. Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240), a $498 billion, five year bill.  Senators passed the measure 64-35, after working through an agreement that allowed consideration of over 70 amendments over the three days, including several that were “non-germane” (unrelated) to the underlying farm and nutrition programs.

Every five years, Congress passes a bundle of legislation, commonly called the “Farm Bill” that sets national agriculture, nutrition, conservation, and forestry policy. The last Farm Bill was passed in 2008, and is set to expire this year on Sept. 30.

Among many policy changes, the Senate-passed Farm Bill ends direct payments, streamlines and consolidates programs, and reduces the deficit by $23 billion by cutting crop subsidies (which provide the majority of savings), conservation funding and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program “SNAP” program (food stamps). Specifically, the bill would terminate $5 billion in annual direct payments to grain and cotton growers and replace it with a revenue-protection plan that would offer “shallow loss” coverage for farmers who experience price and crop losses. The bill would also cut the SNAP program by $4.5 billion over the next five years.

Among the amendments, amendment #2445 offered by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) passed by a vote of 55-44 which would strengthen rural communities by providing $150 million in mandatory funding divided among four rural development programs:

  • Value-Added Producer Grant Program (http://www NULL.rurdev NULL.usda NULL.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants NULL.html)  (Provides $50 million)
  • Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program (http://www NULL.rurdev NULL.usda NULL.gov/BCP_RMAP NULL.html) (Provides $15 million)
  • Water/Wastewater Backlog (http://www NULL.rurdev NULL.usda NULL.gov/UWEP_HomePage NULL.html) (Provides $50 million)
  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (http://www NULL.nifa NULL.usda NULL.gov/fo/beginningfarmerandrancher NULL.cfm) (Provides an additional $35 million, bringing total BFRDP funding to $85 million)

The House Agriculture Committee is expected to mark up its version of the bill July 11.  The House bill is expected to be $10 billion below the Senate measure.

For more information on S. 3240, including bill text and Senate Agriculture Committee summaries, click here. (http://www NULL.ag NULL.senate NULL.gov/issues/farm-bill)  On June 6, NADO and 185 other organizations, as part of the Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development, sent a letter to the Senate asking them to invest in rural development and to support Sen. Brown’s amendment.  To view the letter click here.

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