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New 2014 Farm Bill awaiting president’s signature

WASHINGTON—Virginia’s senators were among members of Congress who voted to pass the 2014 Farm Bill, which now goes to President Obama for a final signature.

“I’m very pleased that the House and Senate have again found common ground on major legislation—in this case on a bill that supports Virginia’s farmers and agribusinesses while also reducing the deficit,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2014. “This legislation will finally give growers and producers the long-term certainty they need to maintain and expand their businesses.”

The bill was approved 68-32 in the Senate this week with broad bipartisan support. It includes many provisions that will benefit Virginians, including strengthened crop insurance for farmers and conservation programs to help protect the Chesapeake Bay. It also saves taxpayers more than $23 billion over 10 years.

“I’m heartened that Congress came together to pass a farm bill that restores certainty for farmers across the country,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. “This bill … eliminates wasteful direct payments, strengthens crop insurance and closes loopholes in the SNAP (formerly food stamp) program without reducing nutrition access for the neediest people.

“While no bill of this scope is perfect, this farm bill greatly benefits farmers and families across the country and serves as another positive sign that Congress will work across the aisle to get things done this year.”

The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation and its national affiliate, the American Farm Bureau Federation, have lobbied for months for passage of a new farm bill. “We are thrilled that the farm bill has passed,” said VFBF President Wayne F. Pryor. “The conservation programs and funding, along with the crop insurance and other programs in the farm bill that will help farmers survive weather extremes and volatile markets, are well past due.”

The farm bill provides historic reforms, including eliminating wasteful direct payment subsidies, strengthening the agriculture safety net and reinvesting in the conservation of natural resources. It requires reasonable efforts toward land conservation on the part of farmers receiving federal premium subsidies for crop insurance, and it provides $100 million for a new competitive grant program into which the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative has been consolidated.

The bill continues funding for numerous provisions that will help grow Virginia’s local food systems. Those include efforts to encourage education and training for new farmers and increased funding for community agriculture programs such as farmers markets.

The bill also rejects the harsh eligibility cuts in the House-passed version and will not remove anyone from food assistance programs. It does, however, call for $8.6 billion in savings by tightening a loophole in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit calculations.

Media: Contact Mace Thornton, AFBF communications, at 202-406-3641.

 

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