Sen. Carper Applauds Senate Passage of the Farm Bill
Legislation Includes Provisions for Delaware Farmers and Families
A five-year, $286 billion Farm Bill passed the Senate, with conservation, energy, nutrition and specialty crop funding important to Delaware’s $1 billion agriculture sector and the thousands of farmers and families it supports.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) voted for the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act (H.R. 2419), which passed the Senate this afternoon by a vote of 79 to 14.
Earlier in the farm bill debate, Sen. Carper co-sponsored an alternative version of the farm bill that would have transformed federal farm commodities subsidies into comprehensive crop insurance to provide more equitable support for all farmers. The Senate did not include that alternative in the bill that passed today.
“The legislation we passed, however, moves our agriculture policy a small step in the right direction, and I look forward to working to strengthen our farm industry more in the weeks and months ahead,” Sen. Carper said.
“Unlike farm bills of the past that have often ignored the unique agriculture character of small states like Delaware, but this bill includes valuable funding for farmland conservation efforts, specialty crops, drought relief, biofuel production and school nutrition programs, all of which I support to help Delaware farmers and families,” Sen. Carper said. “I am especially pleased the bill includes the provisions of the Specialty Crop Competition Act, which I cosponsored earlier this year. These provisions will provide the first-ever funding for Delaware producers of nursery crops, watermelons, potatoes, beans, strawberries, spinach and cantaloupes.”
For Delaware, key provisions in the bill are:
SPECIALTY CROPS: The bill provides a total of $2.2 billion nationwide to help specialty crop producers, and Delaware will receive a portion these federal funding totals:
- $1.133 billion for School Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program.
- $270 million for Specialty Crop Block Grants, which allows states to invest in projects that support production-related research, commodity promotion, sustainability, food safety and other projects that enhance the competitiveness of the specialty crop industry.
- $200 million for Pest and Disease Control.
- $94 million for Market Access Program, which provides funding to help U.S. producers, exporters, private companies, and other trade organizations to finance promotional activities for U.S. specialty crop products.
- $80 million in Organics Research Grants and $80 million in Specialty Crop Research Grants, which establishes a priority focused grant program, awarding education grants
- U.S. specialty crop and organics producers.
FARMLAND & WETLANDS PRESERVATION: To help protect and preserve the remaining farmland across Delaware, this bill provides $4 billion nationwide to continue the Wetland Reserve Program, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), specifically:
- $165 million funding for the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, some of which will address Delaware’s conservation needs along the rivers and waters of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in the state.
- $1.6 million funding for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) to add 1.5 million acres over the next five years through the EQIP.
- A massive expansion of the Conservation Security Program, adding 13 million acres nationwide.
- $1 billon for bioenergy production investments, helping Delawareproducers of corn and soybeans that can be harnessed for biofuels. A booming biofuel energy market will emerge from the Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) requirements of the Energy Bill that passed the Senate late Thursday.
- $270 million for in the Rural Energy for America Program, which helps small farmers use and produce renewable energy — 15 percent of which goes to animal waste-to-energy programs, which benefits Delaware’s chicken farmers.
- $5 billion disaster assistance trust fund to help Delaware farmers when extreme droughts or other disasters exceed what federal crop insurance can cover.
OTHER KEY DELAWARE AGRICULTURE FUNDING:
- Raise the target price for wheat, barley and soybeans so these Delaware producers receive higher counter-cyclical payments.
- Strengthen financial security for Delaware dairy farmers during times of low prices.
Early next year, this Senate version must be reconciled with a different House version of the farm bill that passed earlier this year, and that final congressional conference report will then be sent onto the White House for presidential approval.