The United States has progressed closer to cutting traditional farm subsidies after the 2012 Farm Bill (S. 340) was passed by the US Senate this morning Australian-time.
If passed by the House of Representatives later this year in its current form, the bill would “represent the biggest cut to farm spending in a generation”, the Reuters news agency has reported.
The legislation contains cuts worth $23 billion to almost all traditional farm subsidies, which include direct payments to farmers regardless of whether they plant a crop, and cuts to the federal food stamp program, while expanding crop insurance and providing assistance to farmers who grow specialty crops.
The legislation aims to compensate growers when revenue from a crop fails, rather than prop up prices, Reuters said.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said: “Like many of us who have a vested interest in this legislation (S. 3240), I was pleasantly surprised by the bipartisan efforts made to move this bill through the
Senate very efficiently and without much partisan rhetoric,” NCBA vice president Colin Woodall said in a statement.
“NCBA stands firm in our commitment to support this legislation.
“Although the amendment process was certainly concerning in its early stages, all is well for cattlemen and women thanks to their outspoken grassroots advocacy.
“This legislation, as written, incorporates all NCBA priorities. Bottom-line, there is no livestock title, conservation programs – specifically EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentives Program) – are maintained and the research title is sustained. All this is done with more than $20 billion in savings to the American taxpayer.
“We support this legislation and will continue working with the House to ensure amendments that would interject the federal government into production agriculture are left out of the legislation or soundly defeated.
“As we focus our efforts on working with the House Committee on Agriculture to ensure another version of this legislation that is positive for cattlemen, I must stress the importance of family farmers and ranchers being engaged in this process.”
US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said: “I am grateful for the Senate’s progress toward providing a reformed safety net for producers in times of need, supporting agricultural research and trade promotion, honouring World Trade Organisation commitments, furthering the bio-based economy, conserving our natural resources, strengthening local and regional food systems, and promoting job growth in rural America.
“As the legislative process moves forward, the Administration will continue to seek policy solutions and savings consistent with the President’s Budget, and we are hopeful that the House of
Representatives will produce a bill with those same goals in mind. Swift action is needed so that American farmers and ranchers and our rural communities have the certainty they need to continue strengthening the rural and national economy."