(NFU) President Roger Johnson issued the following statement regarding the release of the initial draft of the 2013 Farm Bill by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry:
“NFU is encouraged that the initial draft of the farm bill has been circulated to members of the Senate Agriculture Committee in advance of the committee markup next week.
“We are pleased to see that target price protection was added to the bill. However, in order to be substantial, target prices need to be increased and balanced in a meaningful way. We urge the inclusion of stronger protection against long-term price collapse for all commodities in all regions. It is also promising that some important programs left out of the one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, have been reauthorized and funded.
“Crop insurance remains a strong part of the safety net to help producers survive difficult times. In the bipartisan, collaborative style typical of the agriculture community, a compromise was reached to link conservation compliance requirements to crop insurance, which was strongly supported across the industry.
“We are encouraged that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) remains virtually unchanged from last year’s bill in both program and funding. It is crucial that we continue to provide a safety net to those who are food insecure in our own country.
“In the mark, the Conservation Reserve Program acreage cap is gradually reduced from 30 million acres to 25 million acres due to budget constraints, and the conservation title remains essentially the same from last year’s Senate farm bill.
“NFU is very pleased to see a strong energy title that includes $800 million in mandatory funding for programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biobased Markets Program and Biorefinery Assistance Program.
“Following conversations this morning with Chairman Lucas, we expect the House Committee on Agriculture to follow suit very soon and are pleased to see movement in both chambers because Sept. 30, 2013, is rapidly approaching.
“NFU urges swift passage of the legislation through the Senate Agriculture Committee and expeditious consideration on the Senate floor later this month.”
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