Jun 21 2012
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed 64-35 the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, the most significant reform of U.S. agriculture policy in decades.
Senator Feinstein said: “California is the nation’s largest and most diverse agricultural state. Our 81,000 farms produce half of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts. The Senate-passed Farm Bill makes significant investments in California’s $38 billion-a-year agricultural industry—most notably in pest and disease management, organic farming and important research programs.
“At the same time, the bill recognizes the reality of the budget deficit and makes vital reforms to subsidy programs that we can no longer afford, including ending the antiquated Direct Payments Program. Ending these subsidies and consolidating other agriculture programs will save taxpayers $23 billion over the next five years.
“While I am disappointed that my amendment establishing a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens was not considered, I remain committed to this issue and will look for other opportunities to advance that legislation.”
Senator Feinstein introduced two amendments that were unanimously approved by the Senate:
- Continuation of funding within the Conservation Innovation Grants program to improve air quality in California’s Central Valley and other regions with poor air quality by retiring diesel tractor engines for more efficient engines.
- A study into the feasibility of crop insurance to cover farmers negatively affected by, but not responsible for, food safety recalls.
Other key provisions in the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012:
- Eliminates direct payments. Farmers will no longer be paid for crops they are not growing, will not be paid for acres that are not actually planted and will not receive payments when prices are rising and support is not needed.
- Ends Farm Payments to Non-Farmers. This bill closes the “management loophole” through which people who were not actually farming—in many cases not even setting foot on the land—were designated as farm “managers” so they could receive farm payments.
- Strengthens crop insurance and expands access so farmers are not wiped out by bad weather.