Floor Statement of Senator Max Baucus
September 19, 2012
Three months ago, the United States Senate came together and passed a full, 5-year Farm Bill. We didn't kick the can down the road.
We passed a bipartisan bill that provides the certainty America's farmers and ranchers need to continue supporting rural jobs and putting food on our tables.
So, there is absolutely no excuse for Congress to adjourn without sending this bill to the President's desk to be signed into law. Still, because the House refuses to even bring this bill up for a vote, it looks like that is exactly what's going to happen. It's shameful.
Passing the Senate bill was not easy. Everyone had to make compromises. But the Farm Bill touches on the lives of millions of Americans in every single state. It is just too important not to act.
The Senate's Farm Bill is a true reform bill. We cut the deficit by more than $23 billion dollars. We streamlined programs to make them more efficient. We went back to the drawing board on the commodity programs and created a true safety net -- one that works for America's farmers, and also for taxpayers.
The House Agriculture Committee pushed out a bipartisan Farm Bill as well. It is no secret there are differences.
But to even begin working out those differences, the House needs to catch up. Despite having a bipartisan Farm Bill from the Agriculture Committee, House leadership is refusing to take it up for consideration.
This isn't my first Farm Bill, and I can tell you from personal experience that this is unprecedented. House leadership has never blocked a Farm Bill that has been reported out of the Ag Committee.
On September 30th, our farm safety net programs expire -- that is just eleven days from now. This is our last chance give America's farmers and ranchers the certainty they deserve.
This is also an opportunity to provide much-needed disaster assistance.
Not long after we passed the Farm Bill in the Senate, a drought began to stretch across the United States.
Wheat and corn fields dried up. Without enough forage, ranchers faced the decision to either sell their herds or purchase extra feed --cutting into their thin margins.
As of this week, more than 2,000 counties have been designated as drought disaster areas by the USDA. 36 of them are in Montana. That's well over half of our state in disaster.
There is a consensus in Congress and across the countryside that something must be done. The Farm Bill is that something.
We have so many reasons to be grateful for the hard work of America's farmers and ranchers. They help sustain healthy rural economies. They grow the food that we feed our families -- food that is both affordable and nutritious.
And because of the strength of America's agriculture, they put that food on tables around the world as well. In 2011, agricultural exports reached $137 billion dollars, with a record surplus of more than$42 billion.
And agriculture supports 16 million jobs nationwide. In Montana, one in five jobs is tied to agriculture. The Farm Bill is our jobs bill.
Last week, many Montana farmers and ranchers came to town to talk about the Farm Bill. They each told me the same thing: we need a Farm Bill now.
Three of those Montanans were Bing Von Bergen from Moccasin, Ryan McCormick from Kremlin, and Charlie Bumgarner from Great Falls. Bing, Ryan and Charlie, like many of Montana farmers, are getting in the field next month to plant winter wheat. They will be doing this with the current Farm Bill expired.
They will be doing this with no certainty of what farm programs for next year will be -- that certainty which community bankers rely on.
They do not want to see the farm programs expire. They do not want short term extensions. They need the certainty of a full, 5-year Farm Bill.
I urge the House to listen to what farmers and ranchers across the United States are saying: The time to pass the Farm Bill is now.
Holding up a Farm Bill with wide bipartisan support is playing politics with the livelihood of our hard-working rural constituents. Instead let us do our job -- so farmers can do theirs. Let us answer their calls and pass a five-year Farm Bill now.