Thursday, June 07, 2012

White House Issues Statement Of Support For 2012 Farm Bill After Senate Votes To Proceed

But Obama Administration hopes for changes in legislation for crop insurance, commodity programs, and safety net...

After the US Senate voted 90 to 8 on Thursday to move forward with the 2012 Farm Bill, S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, the White House issued a strong statement of support for the legislation, praising the lawmakers for bipartisan action, and noting that it "makes meaningful progress toward the Administration's goals." These include "eliminating the direct payment system; tightening payment and eligibility requirements; strengthening access to healthy, affordable food; protecting emergency food aid programs and authorities; and increasing flexibility in the delivery of international food aid."

"The Administration supports Senate passage of S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, and looks forward to working with the Congress to address the important concerns described below prior to final passage," read the statement of Administration policy issued by the Office of Management and Budget.

But the White House is seeking some changes to the legislation, which was approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee in April: The OMB noted that the Administration “looks forward to working with the Congress to achieve crop insurance and commodity program savings that are not contained in S. 3240, while at the same time strengthening the farm safety net in times of need and supporting the next generation of farmers.”

Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and ranking member Pat Roberts (R-Kan) issued statements urging the Senate to act quickly. The current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30. Read about the Senate's measure here.

According to The Hagstrom Report, "The senators who voted against the motion to proceed on the legislation are all Republicans known as fiscal conservatives: Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, John Cornyn of Texas, Jim De Mint of South Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Dean Heller of Nevada, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah. Two Republican Senators did not vote: Dean Vitter of Louisiana and Mark Kirk of Illinois."

The full statement from the White House:

The Administration supports Senate passage of S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, and looks forward to working with the Congress to address the important concerns described below prior to final passage. The Administration greatly appreciates the Senate's bipartisan efforts to enact a farm bill. With authorization for farm- and food-related programs set to expire this year, it is critical that the Congress pass legislation that provides certainty for rural America and includes needed reforms and savings. The new farm bill should promote rural development, preserve a farm safety net, maintain strong nutrition programs, enhance conservation, honor our World Trade Organization commitments, and advance agricultural research. In light of the Nation's long-term fiscal challenge, the legislation should also contribute significantly to deficit reduction.

"The Administration greatly appreciates the Senate's bipartisan efforts to enact a farm bill. With authorization for farm- and food-related programs set to expire this year, it is critical that the Congress pass legislation that provides certainty for rural America and includes needed reforms and savings. The new farm bill should promote rural development, preserve a farm safety net, maintain strong nutrition programs, enhance conservation, honor our World Trade Organization commitments, and advance agricultural research. In light of the Nation's long-term fiscal challenge, the legislation should also contribute significantly to deficit reduction.

The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, S. 3240, makes meaningful progress toward the Administration's goals. Notable reforms include eliminating the direct payment system; tightening payment and eligibility requirements; strengthening access to healthy, affordable food; protecting emergency food aid programs and authorities; and increasing flexibility in the delivery of international food aid. The Administration supports the Senate's efforts to consolidate and streamline conservation assistance, which will reduce administrative burdens on farmers and ranchers and improve environmental outcomes. The bill's funding for bioenergy programs will enhance our energy security while supporting innovation and growth in rural economies.

Consistent with the President's Budget, the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to achieve crop insurance and commodity program savings that are not contained in S. 3240, while at the same time strengthening the farm safety net in times of need and supporting the next generation of farmers. The Administration also strongly supports the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a cornerstone of our Nation's food assistance safety net, which is why it was not subject to cuts in the President's Budget. SNAP helps families put food on the table, while also benefitting farm and rural economies. The Administration also looks forward to working with the Congress to structure reporting requirements and the proposed Research Foundation in ways that will maximize and facilitate agricultural research.
##