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Senate passes farm bill by wide margin

Agriculture.com Staff 02/06/2016 @ 3:10am

The Senate on Friday approved the farm bill by a margin of 79 to 14. The bill now goes to conference before heading to the president's desk.

The farm bill was hailed as bipartisan by Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Senate Ag Committee member and one of the bill's original co-sponsors.

"This bill makes major investments in America's food and energy security -- and does so without adding one cent to our nation's deficit," Conrad said Friday.

In fact, according to Conrad's office, the version approved Friday in the Senate carries a total cost $1 billion less than the one proposed by the Bush administration earlier this year.

This doesn't necessarily mean it's headed for the books just yet. Earlier indications from the White House were that the president would veto the bill. But, Conrad says he expects the bill to be signed into law because of its smaller price tag.

Moving the bill into law is already months late, and according to National Farmers Union president Tom Buis, signage needs to take place as soon as possible.

"The farm bill expired nearly three months ago and the winter wheat crop is already in the ground. Producers need certainty for the coming year," Buis said Friday. "I urge the House and Senate to appoint conferees quickly and pass a conference report soon, so the bill will arrive at the President's desk early in 2008."

Buis said Friday, despite its price tag being smaller than the Bush administration's version, the Senate farm bill meets the needs of a broad swath of farmers.

"The Senate farm bill includes record investments in nutrition, conservation, renewable energy and specialty crop programs while maintaining a strong safety net for producers when prices fall. A strong safety net is vital to a successful farm bill," Buis said. "Past experience has taught us that any farm bill will work during good price years but is really needed during times of low prices. The Senate farm bill will see farmers through the good and the bad."

The Senate on Friday approved the farm bill by a margin of 79 to 14. The bill now goes to conference before heading to the president's desk.

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