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Harkin Supports Senate Passage of Bipartisan Farm Bill

Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Tom Harkin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a senior member and former Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 by a 66-27 vote. This is the eighth farm bill Senator Harkin has worked on since becoming a member of Congress, having chaired the Committee during the passage of the 2002 and 2008 farm bills.

“The bill passed by the Senate today continues the efforts of past farm bills – a balanced initiative that includes critical investments for food, agriculture, conservation, energy and rural programs while reducing federal spending. In addition, this legislation includes essential programs and substantial reforms, such as eliminating direct payments and replacing them with a new revenue-based program – a measure that evolved from the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program that I worked to include in the 2008 farm bill. At the same time, today’s bill builds upon reforms in recent farm bills to strengthen and tighten payment limitations, while bolstering crop insurance programs and making them more beneficial to farmers.

“I am pleased to see that this legislation provides funding and makes improvements in critical conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program and other initiatives that I have strongly supported. Despite reduced levels of conservation funding compared to those in previous farm bills, we were able to limit the extent of the budget reductions with the help of Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran. In addition, I expect significant benefits in conservation after the momentous agreement between the farming and conservation communities that requires farmers to meet minimum conservation requirements in order to receive federal crop insurance premium subsidies.

“I am also pleased that this bill continues funding for initiatives from past farm bills that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to schools across the country. I regret, however, that this legislation reduces funding for nutrition assistance to low-income Americans and will work to mitigate cuts to nutrition assistance programs as the legislative process moves forward. “All in all, this is a strong bipartisan bill. Congress should pass this farm bill quickly to continue to assist farmers and consumers, while making investments in rural communities, agriculture, food, energy, and conservation programs that benefit Iowans and all Americans.”

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