U.S Senate Passes Farm Bill
A new, reform-driven Farm Bill passed the U.S. Senate today, sending the bill on to the White House for the President’s signature.
The bill, which includes reforms to farm and food stamp policy totaling more than $23 billion in savings, passed the House of Representatives last week. U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) praised the bill as a "win" for Alabama farmers, foresters and taxpayers in a video statement released Tuesday.
"This new five-year Farm Bill is a win for Alabama farmers and foresters," Rep. Roby said. "The bill is also a win for taxpayers. It replaces outdated policies left over from the Pelosi-led Congress and represents a positive step toward fiscal responsibility. Reforms included in the bill will save taxpayers more than 23 billion dollars, including 8 billion alone within the food stamp program."
Rep. Roby has served the last three years on the House Committee on Agriculture. Despite her recent move to the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Roby continued to serve on the Conference Committee tasked with working through the differences of the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill contains reforms to the food stamp program that will save taxpayers $8 billion by:
·Ensuring illegal aliens cannot fraudulently obtain food stamps by requiring the use of E-Verify - a provision personally championed by Rep. Roby;
· Instituting efforts to help food stamp recipients secure employment through job training and other services;
·Closing the "LIHEAP Loophole," which allowed states to game the system and artificially increase benefit levels; and,
·Cracking down on trafficking and fraud, including by closing a loophole that allowed lottery winners to receive food stamps.
On the agriculture side, the bill includes cost-effective reforms, as well as provisions of particular benefit to Alabama farmers and foresters. Specifically, the bill:
·Strengthens crop insurance by allowing farmers to invest in their own risk management policies;
· Repeals outdated programs and consolidates duplicative ones, eliminating nearly 100 programs or authorizations;
·Boosts conditions important to Alabama's $21 billion dollar forestry industry relating to the EPA's regulations on forest roads and expands the use of forest products;
·Includes a provision Rep. Roby advocated for to reduce the amount of land allowed into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), restricting the increasingly-frequent practice of paying landowners to let fertile cropland go unplanted for years; and,
·Contains another provision championed by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that lifts restrictions on irrigation access for Alabama farmers.
More information about the Farm Bill is available online here.
The Farm Bill passed the House of Representatives last Wednesday by a vote of 251 to 166. The Senate today passed the bill by a vote of 68 to 32. Each of Alabama's seven House Members voted in favor of the bill.
A full transcript of Rep. Roby's video statement is below.
“After three years of hard work, today a new Farm Bill has been passed by Congress and sent to the President for his signature.
“This new five-year Farm Bill is a win for Alabama farmers and foresters. It makes sure federal agriculture policy treats Alabama crops like peanuts and cotton fairly. It includes smart revisions to EPA rules that will help boost our forestry industry and improve irrigation in our state.
“The bill is also a win for taxpayers. It replaces outdated policies left over from the Pelosi-led Congress and represents a positive step toward fiscal responsibility. Reforms included in the bill will save taxpayers more than 23 billion dollars, including 8 billion alone within the food stamp program.
“Among those reforms is one I personally championed that ensures illegal immigrants cannot fraudulently obtain food stamp benefits.
“We need farm and nutrition policies that make sense. This new Farm Bill isn’t perfect, and work toward more reforms will certainly continue. However, passage of this farm bill represents a major step in the right direction.”
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