From the Center for Rural Affairs

Lyons, Nebraska – Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry amended and passed their 2013 Farm Bill by a vote of 15 to 5. The legislation will now move to the floor of the Senate for debate and amendment.

“We applaud the Senate Ag Committee for renewing their commitment to passing a Farm Bill that for the first time in a generation closes the gaping loopholes that have made a mockery of farm program payment limitations,” said Chuck Hassebrook, Executive Director of the Center for Rural Affairs. “And we thank Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) for their tireless advocacy for reducing the subsidies that mega-farms use to drive family farms out of business.”

This marks the second time in little more than a year that the Senate Ag Committee has demonstrated their commitment to reforming farm program payment limitations, noted Hassebrook.

“And the Farm Bill that passed the Senate Ag Committee today funds beginning farmer and rancher training, rural small business loans and assistance, grants and loans for small town water and sewer systems and value-added enterprise grants for family farmers and ranchers,” said Chuck Hassebrook of the Center for Rural Affairs. “These are also vitally important steps forward for rural America.”

Hassebrook went on to praise the efforts of Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for leading a bipartisan group Senators that secured a sodsaver provision in the Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill that prohibits federal commodity payments on newly broken native sod, and reduces the federal subsidy for crop and revenue insurance by fifty percent on native grass and prairie lands. It also requires that newly broken sod be isolated from other crop acres when calculating insurable yields.

“The sodsaver provision is common-sense legislation that will preserve grazing land, protect hunting opportunities and conserve vital soil resources,” said Hassebrook.

Additionally, these key accomplishments would not have been possible without Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who demonstrated leadership on these issues by including them in the draft Farm Bill she presented to the Committee and provided the support necessary to move them forward.

According to Hassebrook, the Farm Bill could come to the floor for debate by the full Senate soon, perhaps as early as next week. The Agriculture Committee in the House of Representatives is also poised to begin debating their Farm Bill draft tomorrow.

“While timing is never certain, we are encouraged by the product of this first, crucial step in the Farm Bill process. The bill isn’t perfect and we look forward to opportunities to make more strides forward in the coming weeks,” added Hassebrook.