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Miss. Senators: Farm Bill Passage a “Big Win” for Mississippi

WASHINGTON, D.C.–The Farm Bill is now on its way to the president’s desk to be signed into law. It got bi-partisan support in the U.S. House and Senate and was passed in the Senate Tuesday afternoon 68-32.

AUDIO: Cochran at press conference:

Here’s the breakdown:

If you’re a farmer, direct payments have been eliminated with this bill. You’ll have a better crop insurance program, according to the news release from Cochran’s office.

If you get SNAP assistance, some of that will be going away, about one percent per year.

Here are some of the other provisions of the bill, from a news release from Washington:

  • ·        Producer Choice offers producers options for managing their risks through counter-cyclical risk management tools based on price or revenue protection (Price Loss Coverage or Agriculture Risk Coverage).
  • ·        Crop Insurance reforms that create a stacked income protection program (STAX) for producers of upland cotton and a Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) to protect farmers from revenue losses.
  • ·        Trade programs, such as the Market Access Program, are reauthorized to help increase U.S. agriculture product exports.  Mississippi exported $1.3 billion of agriculture products in 2012, and these programs will help producers continue to reach new overseas markets.
  • ·        Forestry programs that benefit federal, state and private forest land in Mississippi are reauthorized, including permanent authorization to the U.S. Forest Service for Stewardship-End Result Contracting projects.  The bill also clarifies that forest products are included in the Biobased Markets Program.
  • ·        Conservation reforms will allow continuation of regional partnerships that have been beneficial in watersheds with significant water quality concerns such as the Mississippi River Basin and Gulf of Mexico.  The consolidation of conservation programs will also help farmers and rancher improve wildlife habitat and address natural resource concerns on working lands.
  • ·        Rural Development provisions reauthorize support for a grant and loan programs to assist in developing water, wastewater and waste disposal projects in rural communities.
  • ·        Agriculture Research programs are reauthorized, including those important to research carried out at Mississippi universities: Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and the Land Grant University formula funds (Hatch Act, Smith-Lever, and McIntire-Stennis).
  • ·        Catfish Inspection program, authorized in the 2008 farm bill, is clarified to clear the way for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement a food safety inspection program that requires all producers and processors of catfish, at home and abroad, to abide by the same food safety standards.
  • ·        Nutrition reforms save taxpayers $8 billion while strengthening tools to fight waste, fraud and abuse of food assistance programs. The bill provides significant support for food banks and hunger relief organizations, such as church pantries or local food cupboards).

Sen. Roger Wicker (R) called it a “big win” for the Magnolia State.

“Agriculture plays a major role in Mississippi – not only for putting food on the table but also in providing a livelihood for many families,” said Wicker. “This Farm Bill supports Mississippi’s hardworking farmers and ensures consumers have access to safe and affordable food.”

Agriculture is Mississippi’s largest business sector and is responsible for employing nearly 30 percent of the state’s workforce, according to a news release from Wicker’s camp. It generates an economic impact of approximately $7.5 billion each year.

“This long-term farm bill ensures certainty and stability for farmers and lenders as they make decisions about production loans, equipment loans, and input costs.”

Sen. Thad Cochran was one of the authors of the bill and is Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee.

“The new farm bill sets an improved course for U.S. agriculture production, one that should make our farmers and ranchers more competitive as they supply the food and fiber that Americans and people throughout the world have come to rely on,” said Cochran.  “I am pleased with the Senate’s strong support for a farm bill that achieves significant savings and addresses a variety of agriculture needs across the country.”

“Mississippi has a rich agricultural history that we want to grow and improve on.  Agriculture and related businesses support the livelihoods of thousands of Mississippi families and communities, and its influence is felt throughout our economy,” Cochran said. 

“The challenge of this farm bill has been to work within budgetary constraints to update and improve agriculture policies for the entire country, while setting the stage for all aspects of agriculture and conservation in Mississippi to excel,” he explained.

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