WASHINGTON, D.C. – On the 150th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined 43 of his colleagues in urging Senate leadership to schedule a vote in the full Senate on the 2012 farm bill. The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012—which cleared the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee in April—is estimated to save taxpayers $23 billion over 10 years. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the senators emphasized the importance of completing the farm bill to provide certainty for farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and all Americans.
“The farm bill that cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee saves billions in taxpayer dollars while supporting Ohio agriculture, protecting critical nutrition programs, investing in farm-based renewable energy, and solidifying our commitment to rural communities across America,” Brown said. “This bill affects all Ohioans and swift consideration of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 is critical.
“There is no better time to prioritize the farm bill than today, the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agriculture is at the root of the American story—a model of innovation, determination, and stewardship of our nation’s land,” Brown added. “USDA has been an integral part of that story—enabling agriculture to thrive and farmers to grow the food, feed, fiber and fuel that create jobs and drive our economy. That’s why the Senate should move to consider the farm bill soon.”
Brown, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Jobs, Rural Economic Growth and Energy Innovation, included provisions that overhaul the farm safety net by ending the era of paying farmers for crops they don’t grow, bolster rural economic development, and ensure access to healthy and affordable food.
Over the last year, Brown convened a “Grown in Ohio” Listening Tour around the state to meet directly with farmers, business leaders, and community officials in advance of Senate consideration of the Farm Bill. These meetings have guided Brown’s legislative priorities. The Senate bill—passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee by a bipartisan vote of 16-5—reduces government spending by $23 billion while reauthorizing risk management, conservation, nutrition, trade promotion and research programs on which nearly all Americans depend. Without action these programs are set to expire at the end of September 2012.
View a summary of the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act, including Brown’s amendments that were accepted by the Committee, at the Senate Agriculture Committee website. On May 7th, more than 125 organizations wrote to the Majority Leader and Republican Leader encouraging quick action on the farm bill.
Full text of the letter is below.
May 15, 2012
The Honorable Harry Reid The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senate United States Senate
S-221 Capitol Building S-230 Capitol Building
Washington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell:
With our constant focus on job creation, we write to urge you to schedule floor consideration of the “Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012” as soon as possible. The bill takes steps to reduce the deficit and decrease government spending by $23 billion. It passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on April 26 with a bipartisan vote of 16 to 5. This sets an example of how Senators can come together in a bipartisan way to craft meaningful, yet fiscally responsible, policy.
We believe there is strong support in the full Senate to consider the bill in a fair and open manner that allows Senators the opportunity to offer amendments. Current authorities for farm risk management, nutrition, conservation, and other farm bill programs are set to expire at the end of this year. According to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis, nearly 16 million jobs are related to agriculture. But, federal farm policy impacts more than those directly involved in agriculture or living in rural areas. We need to act soon to complete a farm bill in 2012 and provide certainty for farmers, ranchers, rural communities, other stakeholders, and all Americans.
We very much appreciate your recognition of the need for timely action on the farm bill.