Senate Passes Farm Bill that Expands Open Space Preservation, Aids Delaware’s Farm Families, and Supports Bio-diesels

WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate today passed a farm bill that expands Delaware’s nationally recognized farmland preservation program, gives Delaware farming families needed assistance to strengthen our farm economy, and provides support for bio-diesel education. Senator Tom Carper, who recently held a series of town hall meetings across Delaware on the bill, voted for the legislation and urged his colleagues to do the same. “Delaware is a national leader in open space preservation. But to make Delaware more livable, we must expand on our successes. This bill gives us the funding we need for that to happen,” Carper said. “Preserved farmland is an engine for improvement to our economy and environment.” The Senate Farm bill (S. 1731) authorizes $73.5 billion in new agriculture funds over the next 19 years, bringing the total to $170 billion in agriculture and nutrition funding over ten years. It expands farmland protection authorizations nationally from $35 million last year to $150 million for this year. By fiscal year 2006, preservation money would be authorized at $500 million. It also authorizes $5 million to educate about the benefits and encourage wider distribution of bio-diesels. The bill also provides needed protections for Delaware’s farming families. Using current levels of production as a base, it offers an income protection level of $2.35 per bushel for corn, $5.75 perbushel for soybeans, and $3.45 per bushel for wheat. There is also extra help for dairy farmers, providing an additional $500 million over 3 1/2 years for assistance to dairy farmers transitioning from the Northeast Dairy Compact, which recently expired. “Our state’s history has its roots in farmland success. But the future of Delaware farming lies in diversified crops and new technologies,” Carper said. “These commodity supports are needed now. But I see a day, through investments in technologies like biomass energy and biodiesels, when the crops grown on Delaware farms not only feed much of the nation, but power it.” With the successful passage of the farm bill, Carper continues his work on other committees to improve Delaware’s environment, agriculture, and economy. Through his position on the Senate Energy Committee, Carper succeeded in including the upcoming Senate Energy Bill increased support for alternate energies such as diesel fuel made from soybeans, which cleans up emissions and offers a new market for Delaware soybean farmers, and biomass, which offers another solution to Delaware’s poultry waste problems.