The Courier was flooded with news releases Tuesday after the Senate passed the so-elusive Farm Bill, 68-32, that President Obama was expected to sign into reality. Here's a sampling.
Montana Grain Growers Association
The Montana Grain Growers Association is pleased with Congressional approval of the Agricultural Act of 2014. MGGA President Matt Flikkema said, “It’s taken several years of hard work to get to this point and we’re happy to finally have a five-year farm bill within reach.”
“Throughout this process, our growers have told us their most important priority was to maintain crop insurance as a proven and effective safety net,” said Flikkema. “This bill not only does that, but it includes several improvements to crop insurance, some of which will reduce program cost and increase benefits for beginning farmers.”
The new bill eliminates familiar farm programs like direct payments, the counter-cyclical program, Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) and Supplemental Revenue Assurance (SURE), but continues the commodity loan program at current loan rates. It also creates a new shallow-loss revenue program that will address multi-year price and yield declines, providing farmers with a safety net when they need it in times of farm revenue loss.
Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus successfully delivered a big win for Montana, leading the Senate to pass the 2014 Farm Bill calling it “Montana’s jobs bill.”
As the only member of Montana’s delegation to serve on an agriculture committee, Baucus secured major victories for Montana in his sixth farm bill. These measures – including permanent assistance for ranchers hit with drought and other natural disasters as well as an extension of Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) which offers income for counties with large tracts of federal land – provides certainty for Montanan farmers and ranchers, and works for Montana’s large, rural counties.
“After too many fits and starts, Montana farmers and ranchers finally have the long-term Farm Bill they need. This is a responsible bill that supports production agriculture, saves taxpayers billions and lets our farmers and ranchers plan for the future. I will continue to support Montana’s hard-working producers that put food on our plates and drive our state’s number one industry.”
The Farm Bill includes numerous Tester priorities, including extending Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) through 2014, strong and permanent livestock disaster assistance programs, support for beginning farmers and ranchers, and savings of $23 billion. The legislation also includes provisions to protect prime hunting and fishing habitat.
Tester led efforts to preserve strong Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) rules in the bill, helping consumers know where meat was born, raised and processed and giving them the option to buy U.S.-made meat if they choose.
Today, in a strong bipartisan vote, the U.S. Senate came together to pass a comprehensive Farm Bill – legislation that will build on the historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, create new jobs and opportunities, and protect the most vulnerable Americans. This bill provides certainty to America’s farmers and ranchers, and contains a variety of commonsense reforms that my Administration has consistently called for, including reforming and eliminating direct farm subsidies and providing assistance for farmers when they need it most. It will continue reducing our deficits without gutting the vital assistance programs millions of hardworking Americans count on to help put food on the table for their families. And it will support conservation of valuable lands, spur the development of renewable energy, and incentivize healthier nutrition for all Americans. As with any compromise, the Farm Bill isn’t perfect – but on the whole, it will make a positive difference not only for the rural economies that grow America’s food, but for our nation.
Montana Farmers Union
Montana Farmers Union President Alan Merrill issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed the Farm Bill:
“Montana’s family farmers and ranchers can get on with their chosen work of feeding and clothing our nation without the uncertainty of what legislation Congress might enact. A five-year farm bill has been passed that includes an adequate safety net for producers and needy Americans as well as programmatic reforms ....
“We are particularly pleased that numerous of our legislative priorities were included in the final bill including:
– Livestock disaster programs that are retroactive to fiscal year 2012;
– Strong conservation programs including CRP, CSP and others;
– Mandatory funding for energy title programs;
– Funding for Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program;
– No change to the COOL statute & GIPSA reforms were retained.
“This farm bill provides certainty, strengthens our agricultural industry and creates jobs, while ensuring food for those who need it the most: hungry children, seniors and veterans. The bill also extends Payments in Lieu of Taxes, important for local governments and rural economies, while protecting and improving millions of acres of habitat that provide more hunting and fishing opportunities.”
The measure ... is seen as a win for Montana’s top industry, production agriculture.
Montana Farm Bureau
“It’s about time,” said Montana Farm Bureau President Bob Hanson. “The passage of the farm bill is early enough in the season that our farmers in Montana will be able to make educated decisions on which crops to plant this spring.”
Hanson said MFBF is particularly pleased with provisions in the 2014 farm bill to provide risk management to crop farmers and to support livestock farmers during disasters. The state’s largest agricultural organization was pleased to see mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules preserved in the bill.
“The long-overdue passage of a five-year Farm Bill by both the House and Senate is good news for Montana,” Daines stated. “One in five Montana jobs relies on agriculture, and a five-year Farm Bill that protects and promotes Montana’s number one industry is critically important for our ag producers and rural communities. I’m glad that the House and Senate have been able to reach agreement on this critical legislation, and I am hopeful that President Obama will act quickly and get this bill signed into law.”
United States Cattlemen's Association
USCA President Jon Wooster: "Given the catastrophic Winter Storm Atlas and the ongoing drought across California and the West, the livestock disaster provisions within this bill will provide necessary assistance to many states currently looking to recover from these weather-related disasters. The implementation of these programs under a ten-year baseline, versus the ad hoc temporary funding used previously, will provide assurance to those affected and for the industry in years to come."
USCA is pleased that the final bill does not contain language that would repeal or interfere with the ongoing country of origin labeling (COOL) case at the World Trade Organization (WTO). USCA was supportive of a "clean" farm bill from the offset and applauds the policy-makers for keeping divisive issues such as COOL and restrictions to the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) out of the final bill.