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THE 2012 FARM BILL: HISTORIC REFORM

Senator Debbie Stabenow’s 2012 Farm Bill has been called the most significant reform of agriculture policy in decades. That Senator Stabenow was able to pass the bill through the Senate with broad bipartisan support illustrates her unique ability to bring both political parties together to move legislation that is critical to Michigan’s economy.

The Farm Bill is the only bipartisan piece of legislation to pass the Senate this year that significantly cuts spending. The bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion by finally stopping payments to farmers for crops they do not grow, eliminating more than 100 unnecessary programs, and cracking down on abuse in food assistance programs. These historic reforms help grow Michigan agriculture, our second largest industry, and provide farmers critical disaster relief--while still reducing the deficit.

BIPARTISAN PRAISE FOR THE FARM BILL

The 2012 Farm Bill has received wide praise from both sides of the aisle for its historic reforms, significant deficit reduction, increased disaster assistance for farmers, and support for job creation in one of the largest sectors of the American economy. Below are a few samples:

Sen. Mitch McConnell (Republican, KY), Senate Minority Leader:

"This is a very fine day in the recent history of the Senate. I congratulate the Chairwoman of the committee and the ranking member. They did a fabulous [job]."

Sen. Harry Reid (Democrat, NV), Senate Majority Leader:

"[I] would be remiss if we didn't say something to the entire Senate about how we feel about this bill and the leadership that was shown by these two fine Senators... We know how hard they worked to get where we are... I cannot say enough... to applaud and compliment Senator Stabenow and Senator Roberts."

Sen. Mike Johanns (Republican, NE):

“…we all recognize, including our farmers and ranchers, that our nation’s budget situation is more daunting than ever…This Farm Bill, though, like no other committee that I am aware of, has taken on the responsibility of providing deficit reduction…You can only imagine if other committees would accept the same responsibility, how big a step we would take in dealing with our deficit issues.”

Sen. Max Baucus (Democrat, MT):

"I'm very hopeful that this will help set a tone about working together. It is not an overstatement to say they did work very hard, they did go the extra mile, that is not just fluff, that's not smoke, that's real. I haven't seen this in some time."

Senator Chuck Grassley (Republican, IA):

“Thank you madam Chairman for your cooperation on that issue, it is the most cooperation I have seen in the 10 or 15 years that I have been working on this issue on trying to bring some reform… I also appreciate madam Chairman the work, and the work Ranking Member Roberts, have put into this farm bill…”

Sen. Kent Conrad (Democrat, ND):

"I want to say [Chairwoman Stabenow] has provided brilliant leadership on this legislation. I'm in my 26th year here. I have never seen a chairman so personally and directly engaged to make legislation happen in an extraordinarily difficult and challenging environment. When the history of this legislation is written, Senator Stabenow, the Chairman of our committee, will be in the front rank of those who made this happen.”

PRAISE FROM INDEPENDENT MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS

“The farm bill…would cut spending by $23.6 billion over a decade, mostly by pruning payments that farmland owners get regardless of whether they plant crops… If signed into law, the subsidy cuts would mark one of the biggest changes to farm policy in years.” – The Wall Street Journal, 6/7/12

“[The Farm Bill is] genuinely a landmark shift…away from direct cash payments to farmers – a much-criticized system begun in the mid-90s – and toward a more market-oriented approach keyed to crop insurance... ” – Politico, 6/12/12

“The bill, which sets the nation’s agricultural and food policy for the next five years, enjoys rare bipartisan support and could
be the only significant piece of deficit-reduction legislation to gain congressional approval this year.” - Washington Post, 6/7/12

“The Senate bill takes almost every conceivable step to cut down on abuses, including banning lottery winners from the program and ramping up enforcement against stores that convert food stamps into cash. But it otherwise maintains current eligibility standards, so any American who hits hard times can at least buy food.” – Detroit Free Press, 6/18/2012

“[T]he [bipartisan] agreement is a genuine triumph for Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) who now has the certainty she wanted of getting to final Senate passage… But most key has been the working relationship she has forged with her ranking Republican, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts.” – Politico, 6/18/12

“The farm bill…was always a bloated, contentious piece of legislation that grew larger and more expensive as it lumbered through Congress. But the farm bill…is a considerably slimmed-down version of previous incarnations. It would slash tens of billions of dollars in direct subsidies to farmers and in the federal food stamp program… The bill, which sets the nation’s agricultural and food policy for the next five years, enjoys rare bipartisan support and could
be the only significant piece of deficit-reduction legislation to gain congressional approval this year.” - Washington Post, 6/7/12

FACTS OF THE FARM BILL

The Senate’s 2012 Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act:

  • Helps create jobs: The Farm Bill helps Michigan farmers boost exports, strengthens bio-manufacturing and bio-energy industries, and makes sure family farmers have new local markets so we have more Michigan grown products in our grocery stores.
  • Provides disaster relief: Farmers in Michigan were hit by a damaging spring freeze and the nationwide drought. Every one of Michigan's counties has been declared a disaster area. Senator Stabenow worked to secure ensure more comprehensive disaster relief was included in the Farm Bill.
  • Cuts spending with major reforms: The Farm Bill is the only bipartisan piece of legislation to pass the Senate this year that significantly cuts spending. The bill reduces the deficit by $23 billion by ending direct payment subsidies paid even when times are good and for crops no longer being grown, consolidating duplicative programs, and eliminating wasteful spending.
  • Cracks down on abuse: When many Americans are experiencing tough times, it is more important than ever that resources only go to those in need -- not people attempting to game the system. By closing loopholes, cracking down on abuse and improving program integrity, the Farm Bill reduces spending on food assistance overall while maintaining our commitment to a strong nutrition program.