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Senate Ag Leaders Find Common Ground in Bipartisan Farm Bill
Michigan Ag Connection - 06/11/2018

U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., released the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The Committee will meet to consider the legislation at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time on June 13. Click here to watch live.

"When Ranking Member Stabenow and I started this journey in Manhattan, Kan., last year, we made a commitment to make tough choices and produce a good, bipartisan Farm Bill" said Chairman Roberts. "I'm pleased that today marks a big step in the process to get a Farm Bill reauthorized on time."

"Whether it's low prices, over burdensome regulations, or unpredictable trade markets, it's no secret that farmers and ranchers are struggling. That's why we need a Farm Bill that works for all producers across all regions. Simply put, our producers need predictability -- and that's just what our bill provides."

"From day one, Chairman Roberts and I agreed we would craft a bipartisan bill that works for farmers, families, and rural communities," said Ranking Member Stabenow. "The 2018 bipartisan Senate Farm Bill goes above and beyond to provide certainty for rural America and our diverse agricultural economy in Michigan and throughout the country."

"From revitalizing small towns, to promoting good stewardship of our land and water, to expanding local food economies, this Farm Bill is a major bipartisan victory."

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 provides certainty and predictability for producers across all regions, as well as those in need of assistance, by:

Providing Certainty for Farmers, Ranchers, and Growers

- Preserving and strengthening crop insurance and other risk management tools for commodity, dairy, livestock, and other producers

- Providing flexibility for producers during times of natural disasters

- Continuing and strengthening export and trade-related programs

- Supporting agriculture research and encouraging research partnerships that make farmers more productive and profitable

Strengthening Integrity and Food Access for Families

- Strengthening the integrity of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

- Building on successful public-private partnerships and job training to improve SNAP participants' path to sustainable employment

- Protecting food assistance for families and expanding access to healthy foods

- Reducing burdensome paperwork for seniors in need of assistance

Strengthening Voluntary Conservation and Forest Management

- Investing in voluntary conservation on working lands and expanding regional partnerships that leverage private funds to address natural resource concerns and improve water quality

- Providing forest management reforms to federal land managers and protecting against wildfires

- Securing opportunities for outdoor recreation by adding 1 million new acres to the Conservation Reserve Program and strengthening voluntary public access

Investing in Rural America

- Connecting rural America by expanding high-speed internet

- Fighting the opioid epidemic with prevention and treatment efforts

- Investing in water infrastructure for rural communities

- Preserving renewable energy investments that lower utility bills and support energy installation jobs

Growing the Diversity of the American Agricultural Economy

- Supporting farmer veterans and new farmers beginning careers in agriculture

- Strengthening local food economies that enable farmers to sell their products to their neighbors

- Growing emerging opportunities in organic production and urban agriculture

- Bolstering biodefense preparedness efforts to protect United States agriculture and food.

"Today, the United States Senate Agriculture Committee released its version of the 2018 Farm Bill. In its consideration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the bill is a marked improvement from the House legislation, and we thank Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for their bipartisan cooperation, noted Matt Knott, president of Feeding America..

"With regard to SNAP, the Senate measure is a stark improvement over the House Farm Bill (H.R. 2), which would dramatically limit the availability of the program and reduce the benefits provided. The Senate bill recognizes the SNAP program is already designed to encourage individuals to find work, and work more hours, and takes steps to address barriers to work that many face by strengthening and increasing partnerships in employment and training. The bill also makes targeted and reasonable improvements to SNAP program administration and in areas that will further strengthen the program," Knott said.

"At the same time, the measure falls short of adequately investing in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), a critical source of food for millions of individuals and families across the country. We want to work with the Senate to strengthen these provisions going forward," Knott added.

"We all have a role to play in addressing hunger -- charity and government -- and SNAP provides critical assistance where we cannot. For every meal that Feeding America provides, SNAP provides 12. Feeding America's national network of member food banks simply cannot meet the need in communities without robust investments in SNAP, TEFAP and other nutrition assistance programs. As the Farm Bill moves forward, we encourage lawmakers to recognize the importance of passing legislation that both supports America's agricultural producers and strengthens key nutrition programs for seniors, veterans, children, and working families," Knott said.

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