Farm Bill Makes it Through Senate Ag Committee

The Senate Agriculture Committee voted to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 on a 15 to 5 vote Tuesday. The bill ends direct payments and transitions to risk management tools that support farmers when they have been impacted by disaster. Overall - the legislation will yield a total of over 23-billion dollars in spending cuts through the elimination of subsidies, consolidation of programs to end duplication and addressing misuse and fraud in food assistance programs. The measure was introduced on the Senate floor Tuesday evening. According to the office of Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow - votes could come as early as next week.

In her opening remarks Tuesday morning - Stabenow noted that the Senate Agriculture Committee was in this same position before one year ago and worked together in a bipartisan way to craft a farm bill with major reforms, deficit reduction and a commitment to the diversity of American agriculture. She said last year provided undeniable proof that farming is the riskiest business in the country - which is why the farm bill is so important. At the beginning of the year - Stabenow told Ranking Member Thad Cochran that she wanted to build on last year's success. She said they worked together to craft a strong farm bill that gives farmers the ability to manage their risk, streamlines programs and cuts red tape for farmers, recognizes the diversity of agriculture and continues a commitment to deficit reduction.

Following the vote - Stabenow said reforming agriculture programs will save taxpayers billions of dollars while helping farmers, ranchers and small businesses create American jobs. Because the Agriculture Committee worked across party lines to streamline programs - she said they were able to save tax dollars while investing in initiatives that help boost exports, help family farmers sell locally and spur innovations in new bio-manufacturing and bio-energy industries.

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