NFU: House Passes Farm Bill
WASHINGTON (May 14, 2008) – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 by an overwhelming vote of 318-106. The farm bill conference report makes record investments in nutrition, conservation, renewable energy, rural development and specialty crop programs while at the same time maintaining a safety net for farmers.
“This is a good bill that addresses many of the challenges Americans face every day,” National Farmers Union President Tom Buis said. “Today’s vote is a demonstration of the widespread support for this bill and I am pleased to see the House take this important step to move the farm bill toward enactment.”
The 2008 Farm Bill will create a permanent disaster assistance program, a top NFU priority that will strengthen the safety net by providing a predictable and stable program to help those affected by weather-related disasters. “America’s farmers and ranchers can do many things but they cannot control the weather. This is a vital provision to protect against circumstances out of their control,” Buis said.
Additionally, the bill will allow for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) to go into effect after years of delay and interstate shipment of state inspected meat will be allowed. The first-ever Livestock Title, to address concentration in the marketplace, will be established.
Dairy producers will benefit from the continuation of the MILC program above current levels with an added cost of production factor; and specialty crop growers will receive more than $900 million in mandatory funding for their industry. Conservation program budget authority is increased by $7.9 billion and international and domestic nutrition programs receive a more than $10 billion boost.
“It’s important to note that more than 73 percent of the bill is for nutrition programs,” Buis said. “As a farmer, I find it appalling that anyone in this country goes to bed hungry. The farm bill takes the necessary steps to ensure that this won’t happen.”
Buis also pointed to the bill’s reforms. “Eliminating the triple entity rule and requiring direct attribution of farm program payments will inject transparency into commodity payments.”
The farm bill will also spur development of home-grown renewable fuels with provisions to accelerate production of cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels.
“While not perfect, this is a good farm bill,” Buis said. “I urge the Senate will follow suit and pass the conference report by a strong margin. I would urge the President to take note of today’s strong vote and accept that the American public wants this legislation and should reconsider his promised veto.”