U S Senate Passes Its Version of Farm Bill

Gary Cooper Citrus, Florida, General

As news of the Senate passing its version of the Farm Bill makes the rounds, various folks are weighing in with differing opinions. An example, Acting Secretary of Agruculture Chuck Conner says the legislation is “fatally flawed”, while a Florida Citrus Mutual release commends the Senate for passing a bill it says “for the first time, provides substantial funding for the fruit and vegetable industry.”

BUT this is the Senate version, a lot different than the previously passed House version, so we’re still a long way from the end of the process.

Meanwhile, Acting Secretary Conner is having a telephone news conference with ag reporters this afternoon. Stay tuned to Southeast AgNet and AgNet OnLine in days ahead for further details. Click here to read Conner’s initial comments, and to see the Citrus Mutual news release

Statement by Acting Secretary Chuck Conner on the Senate-Passed Farm Bill – December 14, 2007
“Farmers and ranchers face enormous uncertainties and deserve a safety net, and I am a firm believer in federal support of agriculture. Yet, the farm bill just passed by the Senate fails to strengthen the safety net and increases taxes to generate $15 billion in revenue used to grow the size and scope of government. The bill further increases price supports and continues to send farm subsidies to people who are among the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. The Senate-passed farm bill does not represent fiscal stewardship and lacks farm program reform.

“This legislation is fundamentally flawed. Unless the House and Senate can come together and craft a measure that contains real reform, we are no closer to a good farm bill than we were before today’s passage.

“Farmers need a stable safety net that helps in years they need it most,” said Conner. “And farmers deserve a farm bill that is free of budget smoke and mirrors and tax increases. The measure passed today has $22 billion in unfunded commitments and budget gimmicks, and includes $15 billion in new taxes- the first time a farm bill has relied on tax increases since 1933.

“The House and Senate need to address the concerns that matter to farmers the most. We have heard from farmers all across America in over 50 Farm Bill Forums since 2005, and most have made it clear that there must be an end to income subsidy payments for the richest people in the country. Farmers understand that a program that takes tax dollars from middle income America and transfers those dollars to the nation’s wealthiest few is bad policy, and damages the credibility and the purpose of farm programs.

“As the House and Senate work to come to a consensus on their different bills, it is imperative that substantial changes are made to this legislation. I am eager to work with Congress on ways to make this a good farm bill that benefits our rural communities and America’s farmers.” # # #

News Release – Florida Citrus Mutual Applauds U.S. Senate on Farm Bill Vote
LAKELAND, Fla. (December14, 2007) – Florida Citrus Mutual applauded the U.S. Senate Friday for passing the 2007 Farm Bill which, for the first time, provides substantial funding for the fruit and vegetable industry.
The Florida citrus industry stands to benefit from the 2007 Farm Bill through the mandatory funding provisions for specialty crop programs. Specifically, mandatory funding for fruit and vegetable marketing, crop research and increased federal nutrition programs that encourage children to eat healthier.
The Senate passed the $288 billion bill by a vote of 79-14.
“The $9 billion Florida citrus industry is at a challenging time in its history. We are facing significant threats from diseases such as citrus greening. The 2007 Farm Bill will help fund the research required to defeat this insidious disease,” said Michael W. Sparks, executive VP/CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual. “The U.S. Senate made a terrific investment in our country’s fruit and vegetable industry today and we are very appreciative.”
“On behalf of the 8,000 grower members of Florida Citrus Mutual we would especially like to thank Senators Martinez and Nelson for their leadership on this issue,” Sparks continued. “We hope this momentum will carry over to the Conference Committee between the House and the Senate.”
Founded in 1948 and currently representing nearly 8,000 grower members, Florida Citrus Mutual is the state’s largest citrus growers’ organization. For more information, please visit www.flcitrusmutual.com.