Sen. Carper Urges House to Act on Long-Term Farm Bill

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) urged members of the House of Representatives to take action on the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, commonly referred to as the 2012 Farm bill. In June, the Senate passed a bipartisan, long-term farm bill that would reduce the deficit by $23.6 billion, eliminate wasteful spending and provides farmers with critical safety net. Among those provisions included in the legislation is language championed by Sen. Carper to prioritize research to improve feed choices for the poultry, livestock and food production industries and to help safeguard conservation resources for Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts. In July, the House Agriculture committee approved a bipartisan long-term Farm bill, but thus far House Leaders have declined to bring the measure up for a vote.  

“I urge House Leaders to step up and allow a much-needed vote on a bipartisan, long-term extension of the Farm bill,” said Sen. Carper. “This legislation is vital for the livelihoods of our farmers and growers who put food on the table for millions of Americans.  The House bill isn’t perfect but it is a step in the right direction and certainly far better than allowing this critical program to expire.  The House should pass its Farm bill so we can reconcile the differences between the two bills and get something done for the American people. Unfortunately it appears that House Leaders are once again postponing difficult decisions that could – and should – be made now until after the election.  Over two months ago, under the leadership of Senators Stabenow and Roberts, my colleagues and I joined together to support our bipartisan Farm bill. Our bill would reduce the deficit and provide much-needed resources for American farmers and growers who have been struggling with aftermath of one of the hottest summers on record and a prolonged drought. This common-sense legislation saves precious taxpayer dollars, encourages healthier lifestyles, and helps our farmers, the lifeblood of this country. In a time when we need to protect our drought and heat-affected farmers, House leaders need to do the responsible thing and pass a bill soon.”

 Specifically, the legislation would institute a new crop insurance program by getting rid of the so-called direct payments program, giving farmers and growers the security they need to continue their trade but at a much lower cost to the American taxpayer. It focuses on encouraging farmers to grow – and getting people to eat – more healthful foods and invests in conservation efforts that will be particularly critical to regions like the Chesapeake Bay. The bill also includes legislation – which Sen. Carper introduced earlier this year – that would support the expansion of products made in this country from bio-based materials. These renewable materials can be used to replace petroleum in plastics, which not only reduces reliance on foreign oil but also protects the environment and creates new jobs in local communities throughout the nation, including those in Delaware. 

 Instead of voting on a long-term Farm bill before the current program expires September 30, House Leaders declined to consider the legislation until after the November election. If a long-term Farm bill is not passed by the end of September, laws will revert to depression-era agriculture policy, including costly subsidies and price controls. This would create harm and uncertainty for farmers and growers who are currently trying to plan for next year’s growing season but are unable to move forward due to House inaction.