$955 Billion Farm Bill Passes Senate - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

$955 Billion Farm Bill Passes Senate

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Monday evening, the Senate voted 66-27 to pass a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill that will expand government subsidies for crop insurance, rice and peanuts while making small cuts in the food stamp program.

The bill, which costs almost $100 billion annually, also eliminates subsidies that are paid to farmers whether they farm or not. It could save about $2.4 billion a year, including across-the-board cuts that took effect earlier this year.

The Senate passed a similar farm bill last year on a bipartisan 64-35 vote.

Statement from Minnesota Sen. Al Franken 

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (DFL-Minn.) said the five-year Farm Bill passed by the Senate Monday reforms federal farm programs, strengthens the farm safety net, and gives Minnesota's farmers the certainty they need to plan for the future.

The legislation, which cuts $24 billion in spending, also contains several key provisions Sen. Franken authored to help Minnesota.

This year, Sen. Franken helped author the energy section of the bill, which will produce jobs and growth in Minnesota's agriculture energy sector. He also successfully fought to preserve the federal sugar program by voting to ensure that vital protections remain in place for sugar growers. The sugar industry contributes thousands of jobs and almost $5 billion to the economies of Minnesota and the region.

"This legislation is a very good outcome for Minnesota's farmers, who need the certainty that comes with a five-year Farm Bill, and I'm pleased the Senate was able to get this done," said Sen. Franken. "I'm proud to have helped author the energy section this year, which will produce jobs and growth in agriculture energy—advanced biofuels, wind, biomass—the whole nine yards. That's good for Minnesota, because we're leaders in those technologies, and it's good for the entire country because it will decrease our dependency on foreign oil."

"Also, I'm very glad that we were able to successfully defeat an attempt to gut the U.S. sugar program, which is vital to Minnesota's economy and keeps jobs from being shipped overseas," continued Sen. Franken. "We need to protect American sugar and American jobs and we did just that."  

  The bill passed the Senate Monday 66-to-27. Sen. Franken said he hopes the U.S. House of Representatives will take up and pass the Farm Bill in a timely manner.

Statement from North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven

Senator John Hoeven announced that the U.S. Senate has voted to pass the new farm bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013. The new legislation focuses on enhanced crop insurance, the number one priority for North Dakota producers; continues the sugar program, also important for North Dakota farmers; and saves $24 billion to help reduce the deficit.

The comprehensive farm bill moved through the Senate, Hoeven said, because lawmakers had already worked through dozens of amendments when it passed a similar measure last year, and they were able to build on the earlier legislation.

The House of Representatives has passed its version of the farm bill out of committee with a large bipartisan majority and is expected to bring it to the House floor in June or July. Once passed, the two versions will need to be reconciled in a joint Senate-House conference committee. The current farm bill expires at the end of September.

"For the second year in a row, the Senate has voted by a large, bipartisan majority to pass a strong farm bill for American producers and consumers," Hoeven said. "It's strong because we worked hard to make sure it includes enhanced crop insurance, continues the sugar program, provides additional funding for rural flood protection and saves $24 billion dollars to help with the deficit and debt. We also made changes this year that got southern growers onboard, which improves the bill's chances of passing in the House. Most importantly, it enables our farmers and ranchers to continue to provide American consumers with the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world."

Statement from North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today helped pass the overwhelmingly bipartisan 2013 Farm Bill through the full Senate. Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, was joined by 65 of her colleagues in supporting the measure, which reforms outdated farm programs to reduce the federal deficit by more than $24 billion. The House of Representatives has yet to consider a Farm Bill.

"Today was a great day for North Dakota agriculture," said Heitkamp, who worked tirelessly since taking office to shape a bill that will work for North Dakota. "This is a crucial step in my efforts to ensure that North Dakota producers have the certainty they need so they can continue to feed the world."

"Last year, the Senate similarly passed a bipartisan bill, only to have the House of Representatives refuse to take it up. North Dakota producers deserve a long-term bill and it is incumbent upon the House to step up for rural America. Inaction will simply delay needed reforms, prevent smart cuts from taking place and continue unneeded policies that do not reflect the needs of rural America," continued Heitkamp.

The bill will reduce the federal deficit by more than $24 billion through a number of reforms, including ending direct payments to producers. The 2013 Farm Bill also strengthens crop insurance by retaining the premium support that farmers rely upon to afford insurance. Additionally, the bill gives farmers the option to buy increased coverage to control risks.

Heitkamp worked to defeat several proposals that would have been harmful to North Dakota, including an effort by special interests to dismantle the Sugar Program.  

Statement from Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced today that the Farm Bill has passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. The bill reduces the deficit by $24 billion, strengthens the crop insurance program, eliminated direct payments, supports dairy producers, and includes a strong energy title as well as strong conservation programs. In addition, the legislation maintains the successful sugar program, which was threatened by an amendment designed to weaken the program; Klobuchar fought against the amendment, which was ultimately defeated. Klobuchar is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which is responsible for crafting the Farm Bill. 

"Today's bipartisan vote is a major step forward for a strong, long-term Farm Bill that is critical to moving our economy forward," Klobuchar said. "The Senate Agriculture Committee worked hard to ensure that this legislation provides farmers and ranchers with the certainty and support they need, while maintaining the successful sugar program and saving $24 billion, and I will continue to push this legislation forward and make sure this bill gets done."

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