What is in this article?:
- Senators weigh in on farm bill votes, proposed programs
- One-size-fits-all disparaged
- Senators from the South are explaining their “no” votes following passage of the $1 trillion Senate farm bill. A final tally of 65-34 ensured the legislation’s win, but a large number of Southern lawmakers were included in the minority vote.
- No Southern senator on the Senate Agriculture Committee voted for the bill coming out of committee.
The one-size-fits-all approach was also disparaged by Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran. “Mississippi is fortunate to have some of the most fertile soil in the world, and agriculture remains the cornerstone of our state’s economy. Unfortunately, farmers across the South will suffer a disproportionate loss of support under the bill the Senate adopted. I had hoped that reasonable modifications could be made to ensure the farm bill provides fair producer options to all regions of the country. The one-size-fits-all approach in the Senate bill places unfair burdens on some crops and regions, and puts them at a distinct disadvantage for investing in rural infrastructure and agriculture-related jobs.
“With planting decisions already being distorted by policies outside of the farm bill, it is even more imperative that farm bill policy not further incentivize commodity production in certain regions at the expense of others.”
Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker also voted against the Senate farm bill. “Americans depend on access to quality agricultural products produced by Mississippi’s farmers. The bill before the Senate today failed to recognize the realities faced by Southern producers. I remain hopeful that a workable solution can be reached for all of America’s farmers as this process continues.”
The Mississippi Farm Bureau backed Cochran and Wicker’s views. Following careful review, said the organization’s president Randy Knight, “we feel like the bill put forth by the Senate has true potential to leave many of Mississippi’s farmers and ranchers without a viable safety net in times of uncertainty. Certain commodities were left with little means to mitigate major risks in the market, leaving these farmers with virtually no farm safety net.
“We have strong commodity prices right now, but we all know these prices will not remain this high. When these markets change, Mississippi’s farmers need a viable safety net to provide stability for the sake of our domestic source of food. This farm bill simply doesn’t provide such protection for several of Mississippi’s commodities. We feel like the House of Representatives will work on legislation that may provide more favorable support for these commodities. We certainly hope the House and Senate can come to an agreement in conference on a bill that provides the protection many of our members need.”
For Arkansas Farm Bureau’s reaction, see here.
The USA Rice Federation weighed in with a warning to all farmers, regardless of their crop choice. “Sadly, while the Senate farm bill appears to harm only Southern agriculture, the effects of a long-term decline in crop prices would be felt by producers of all crops because this farm bill would fail them.”
The federation also provided a list of how senators from major rice growing states voted: Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt -- yes; Arkansas Sen. John Boozman -- no; California Sen. Barbara Boxer -- yes; Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran -- no; Texas Sen. John Cornyn – no; California Sen. Dianne Feinstein – yes; Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison – yes; Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu – no; Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill – yes; Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor – no; Louisiana Sen. David Vitter – no;
Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) – no.
A statement from the National Cotton Council said the cotton industry “has reservations about a number of provisions in the Senate-passed legislation, but believes that the cotton title will facilitate successful resolution of the cotton component of the Brazil WTO dispute. The cotton industry looks forward to working with the leaders of the House Agriculture Committee and Cotton Belt members as they develop their version of new farm legislation.
“It is clear that U.S. cotton farmers are willing to make a significant contribution to deficit reduction and are committed to reform farm policy in a way that allows them to manage risks that are beyond their control. It is important for Congress to complete and the president to sign, in a timely manner, new farm legislation that is balanced, stable and predictable.”
For more farm bill coverage, see here.