Our local representatives reactions to passing of new federal farm bill

With the passing of the federal farm bill after 3 years of debate-FPC has been receiving many statements through our local representatives' newsletters based on the final conferenced bill.

Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, in her February 4th newsletter:

The House and Senate have passed a Farm Bill that will touch the lives of all Americans.  Not only does it direct agricultural policy, but it also sets funding levels for vital nutrition programs such as SNAP (food stamps)  and many conservation and economic investment programs that reach all communities.  The Farm Bill Conference Committee, on which I served as Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi’s appointed representative, worked through immense differences to reach an agreement.  Ultimately, the Conference Committee produced a fair, bipartisan bill that meets the needs of the American people and reduces federal spending by $23 billion.

Although I do not agree with some provisions of the bill, I believe it was the right decision to vote for legislation that prevents devastating cuts to SNAP, improves access to nutritional offerings, and expands economic investment in low income and urban communities, as well as provides certainty and sound agricultural policies for America’s farmers and ranchers.

Ohio will not be affected by the $8.6 billion in savings to SNAP over 10 years through a change in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) policy. I am pleased we were able to avoid the much larger cuts ($40 billion) included in the nutrition bill passed by the House last September. 

The Farm Bill designates Central State University as a land-grant institution, allowing the university to receive federal funding for agricultural education. I am pleased the institution will expand its education initiatives and participate in Ohio’s agricultural research.  A historically black university with many students from the 11th District, Central State is well-suited to carry out the land grant mission, which will benefit Ohioans for years to come.

In 2012, I invited constituents to provide their input on the Farm Bill.  A resident from South Euclid identified his concerns about agricultural microloans and informed my staff that youth loans from the Department of Agriculture, the only department to give loans to young people, were restricted to rural residents. I am pleased to announce the 2014 Farm Bill clarifies that youth loans are not limited to rural citizens and will now be available to urban residents; authorizes the Microloan Program to target loans of $50,000 or less for new or non-traditional producers; and creates a pilot relending program with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to make or guarantee microloans.

Agriculture Scholarships

For more information on educational scholarships related to Agriculture, please contact my Cuyahoga County District Office at 216-522-4900.

Senator Sherrod Brown, in his February 5th newsletter:

Yesterday, a five-year comprehensive farm bill passed the U.S. Senate and is on its way to becoming law. With the passage, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a member of the Senate Farm Bill Conference Committee and the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 40 years, released the following statement:

“The Farm Bill is more than just a long-term policy on agriculture; it’s a jobs bill; it’s a food and nutrition bill; it’s an investment in rural communities, and it provides certainty for American farmers and producers,” Sen. Brown said. “For three years, I have fought for passage of a bill that balances the need for reform while making smart investments in conservation, nutrition, renewable energy, and rural development programs. This bill achieves that balance. By streamlining programs, reducing regulatory hurdles, and replacing direct farm payments with market-based supports, we now have a system that is more responsive to farmers’ needs and more responsible to taxpayers.”

Sen. Brown has fought for passing a five-year farm bill that benefited Ohio farmers and consumers. Many portions of the “Grow it Here, Make it Here” initiative were included in the Farm Bill to support this homegrown industry. The initiative will boost the manufacture of biobased products, made with agricultural materials. With more than 130 Ohio companies already producing biobased products, the provisions in the Farm Bill will bolster Ohio’s leading industries: agriculture and manufacturing.

Provisions of Sen. Brown’s Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, included in this year’s farm bill, will help Ohio farmers and producers sell their products directly to consumers while creating jobs by addressing production, aggregation, marketing and distribution needs. It will also ensure that consumers have better access to nutritious, locally-grown food.

Sen. Brown also helped secure more than $150 million for key rural development programs in the 2012 farm bill, which passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support. The 2013 farm bill draft retains this funding level and other key provisions.

Sen. Brown has introduced legislation for expanding access to Broadband internet for rural communities, the Connecting Rural America Act, which had provisions included in the Farm Bill. The investments will create jobs in the short term while establishing a new foundation for long-term economic growth in rural and Appalachia Ohio.

With one in seven Ohio jobs related to the food and agriculture industry, Sen. Brown has been a staunch advocate for passing a five-year farm bill that combined commodity programs with the nutrition title. In October 2013, Sen. Brown was named a Senate conferee in an effort to pass a comprehensive, five-year farm bill. In November, Sen. Brown joined Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher and Ohio Association of Food Banks Executive Director Lisa Hamler-Fugitt to outline his priorities in the conference report.

More information about provisions of the farm bill can be found here