Farm, food and wildlife groups react to Senate farm bill vote

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SALEM, Ohio — The U.S. Senate approved a new five-year farm bill in a floor vote Feb. 4 by a vote of 68-32.

The House passed the same bill Jan. 29, following a bipartisan conference report that cut overall spending by $23 billion, cut $8 billion from food stamps, and ended direct payments to farmers, while providing farmers new insurance and risk management options.

Here are some of the top reactions to the Senate vote:

Jack Fisher, executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau Federation:

“The bill demonstrates considerable fiscal responsibility while providing security to farmers and the public.

We appreciate the bill’s strengthening of crop insurance as a risk management tool. We support its provisions that allow farmers to act on market signals for planting decisions and its programs aimed at assisting livestock farmers. We also appreciate its strong conservation measures, and its commitment to feeding programs for children, the elderly and poor.”

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cinn.:

“I am pleased that this bill helps restore the integrity of the SNAP entitlement program, which is riddled with loopholes that have allowed the program to grow faster than economic conditions would have otherwise allowed. By reducing the LIHEAP loophole and terminating SNAP benefits to lottery winners, this farm bill will work to reduce abuse in the program — but more needs to be done.

In addition, this bill takes another commonsense step by eliminating the direct payments, which provides subsidies to farmers regardless of how much a farmer grew or profited in a given year.”

Robert Guenther, United Fresh Produce Association’s senior vice president for public policy:

“Even though the overall bill took many unexpected twists and turns, one thing was consistent: strong, bipartisan support in the House and Senate for fresh fruit and vegetable policies. Throughout the long process, Farm Bill programs for fruits and vegetables were maintained or strengthened. This is a clear sign that policymakers recognize the importance of our industry to the nutritional well-being of all Americans and to the overall U.S. economy.”

Ohio Farmers Union:

“It is good that agreement has been reached on a final bill.  More than two years in the making is too long.  Most of what National Farmers Union advocated for is in total or in part in the final bill.  That increased farm market funding and livestock disaster relief is included is vital.

It supports family farmers, ranchers and fishers and most importantly consumers.  It is unfortunate that the National Cattleman’s Beef Association is so opposed to the outcome.  They are willing, in their opposition, to Country of Origin labeling (COOL) to jettison disaster relief and throw family farmers under the bus in favor or corporate packers, multinational interests and profit.

Carol Goland, executive director, Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association:

“Senator Sherrod Brown recognizes the diversity of agriculture in Ohio. The vital role he played in reinstating funding for programs like the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, Value Added Producer Grants, and the Farmer’s Market and Local Foods Promotion Program will bolster local food and farm economies throughout Ohio,”

Brent Hostetler, President, Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association:

“This day has been a long time coming as farmers from all corners of Ohio have spent years tirelessly advocating for a new farm bill to ensure a safety-net is in place for those years we are faced with circumstances far beyond our control. I join my fellow farmers in thanking Ohio’s Congressional delegation who supported a bill to help protect one of Ohio’s greatest resources, our agriculture industry, which helps to maintain the most secure and affordable food supply in all of the world.”

Jerry Bambauer, President, Ohio Soybean Association and Auglaize County soybean farmer:

“It’s been a long road, but today we’re celebrating the Senate passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. OSA thanks Senator Brown for his support of this vital piece of legislation.  Soybeans are a big part of Ohio’s economy and the top agricultural export for Ohio.  The farm bill will provide market stability and certainty for Ohio’s 24,000 soybean farmers.”

Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation:

“With so many competing interests, it is a huge victory for wildlife that the conservation of our nation’s natural resources was prioritized and included in the final bill. By re-linking conservation compliance to crop insurance, funding key conservation programs, and including a sodsaver provision in key states to protect grasslands, this bill will help wildlife from across our prairies to our oceans.

We congratulate the agriculture committee leaders on forging a bipartisan bill that will serve the interests of wildlife and farmers.”

Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director, Ohio Association of Foodbanks:

“As Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger, we cannot emphasize enough how important federal nutrition programs are, not only to food insecure Ohioans, but to our state’s economy as a whole. While we are thankful that more severe cuts to SNAP have not been included in this Farm Bill, we know that current SNAP benefits are inadequate for the millions of children, adults, seniors and people living with disabilities that struggle to provide nutritious food for themselves and their families.

“Our emergency food assistance network is grateful for the increase in TEFAP funding, which will help our foodbanks come closer to meeting record-high demand for help with the basic necessity of food. But most of all, we want to see Ohioans moving out of our emergency food pantry lines and into grocery store lines, where their SNAP benefits are infused back into local economies.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett:

“Farmers and agribusinesses drive Pennsylvania’s economy, with $68 billion in total economic impact annually,” said Corbett. “I commend Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, especially Congressman Glenn G.T. Thompson, for their leadership on behalf of agriculture and the many citizens who depend on the farm bill.

“I urge the president to sign this bill as soon as possible, because it helps ensure our farmers remain competitive.”

Gildo Tori, a director of public with Ducks Unlimited:

“The 2014 Farm Bill is a real victory for all who care about clean water, healthy soils, and abundant fish and wildlife. Key programs like the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Agricultural Easement Program, CRP and CSP will provide landowners key provisions to ensure our Great Lakes watershed stays healthy and productive. Our Senators and members of Congress did a fine job of negotiating through a difficult bill that yields great benefits for everyone – farmers, ranchers, hunters, anglers and every citizen that makes their home among the Great Lakes.”

About the Author

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties. More Stories by Chris Kick

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