U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today applauded President Obama for convening the White House Rural Council and responding as forcefully as possible to this year’s record-setting drought. At Chairwoman Stabenow’s urging, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued disaster declarations last month that make emergency loans available to help farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses who are recovering from a spring deep freeze and the worst national drought in more than 50 years. The White House has now announced a new round of disaster relief to support farming families and the nation’s agriculture economy.
The announcement comes as the House has yet to take up a new Farm Bill, which includes significant disaster relief provisions and would provide farmers and agriculture businesses the certainty they need to invest and grow. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was in Michigan with Senator Stabenow this week to talk to farmers hurt by this year’s inclement weather.
“The administration’s efforts are very good steps in the effort to combat against deep freeze, drought and other weather disasters that have occurred this year,” said Stabenow. “But while the administration is doing everything it can, the real burden rests on Congress to pass a full five-year Farm Bill that would provide better disaster relief and provide long-term certainty. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill. It’s deeply troubling that House leaders would leave farmers, ranchers and small businesses in the lurch at a time when our agriculture economy is vulnerable and facing historic hardship.”
The full Senate passed its Farm Bill in June and the House Agriculture Committee passed its version last month with strong bipartisan support. The Senate Farm Bill includes critical disaster assistance provisions that go above and beyond the limited assistance the House leadership proposed, and strengthens crop insurance to help ensure farmers are protected from future disasters. Farmers and farm groups agree that a full five-year Farm Bill is better than a limited disaster bill (link).
The new Farm Bill provides farmers the certainty they need to plan for the upcoming season and strengthens initiatives that help farmers and small businesses continue to grow America’s agriculture economy. It is also the only bipartisan bill to cut spending that passed the Senate this year, reducing the deficit $23 billion while ending direct payment subsidies, streamlining programs and confronting program abuse.