Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats, Agriculture Advocates Discuss Republican Obstruction Of Farm Bill

Washington, DC—Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and other Democratic Committee Members joined agriculture advocates at a press conference today to discuss Republican obstruction of the farm bill.  The Food and Energy Security Act of 2007 will improve the quality of life and economic vitality of rural communities, and also enhance nutrition, conservation and energy security across the country.  It also invests in expanding food and nutrition programs for families, the elderly, the disabled, and will improve the health and wellness of American children.  But even as Thanksgiving approaches, Republicans are blocking our efforts.

“I was deeply disappointed by this morning’s vote to block the farm bill,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.  “Frankly, I worry that there is a deliberate and orchestrated attempt to derail the farm bill.  This strong, bipartisan, forward-looking, fiscally responsible farm bill provides new investments in conservation, renewable energy, nutrition assistance and rural development.  And it passed the Committee without a single vote voiced against it.  So I am hopeful, and yet I am realistic that we must continue to fight to get this strong, bipartisan farm bill through the Senate and enacted into law.  That fight will continue today, tomorrow and just as long into next month as it takes to get the job done.”

Said Senator Debbie Stabenow: “I am extremely disappointed that this Farm Bill which was created in a truly bipartisan manner has been the latest target of Republican obstructionism.  This is about a Republican strategy to block this Congress from working together to get things done for the American people.”

“We have worked hard through the committee process and on the floor to craft a robust, bipartisan, forward-thinking, and balanced package,” Senator Ken Salazar said.  “This Farm Bill will revitalize rural America through smart investments in renewable energy, a stable and secure food supply, and responsible conservation of our land and water.  I am extremely disappointed that Republicans have chosen to engage in partisanship rather than working to pass a Farm Bill that will directly aid our farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and families across America.  We will keep working to get this bill across the finish line and to the President’s desk for his signature.”

Said Senator Sherrod Brown: “Budgets and bills are more than ink on paper – they are a set of priorities. Passing the 2007 Farm Bill is about priorities.  In a nation as wealthy as ours, eradicating hunger, eliminating poverty and investing in families should not be partisan issues.  When we return to Washington in December I hope that we can pass this legislation.  Too many families across this nation are depending on us to stand up for them.”

“Some members seem ready to plow this bill under,” Senator Amy Klobuchar said.  “It is unfortunate that we missed this opportunity to invest in our rural economies and our energy future.  This is a good bill that includes a strong safety net for our farmers and a groundbreaking energy title that will invest in the workers and farmers of the Midwest.  They are counting on us, and we’re here today ready to get it done.”

Said Jim Weill, President of the Food and Research Action Center, “It is particularly important for the hungry people of America that the Farm Bill with a strong nutrition title move forward with broad bipartisan support as soon as possible.”

“For these farmers and ranchers who want to be good stewards of the land, for fruit and vegetable growers, for consumers shopping at farmers markets, extension is not an option,” said Ralph Grossi, President of the American Farmland Trust.  “Extension would be like driving into the future of U.S. agriculture by looking in the rearview mirror.”

Said Tom Buis, President of the National Farmers Union: “The current farm bill expired September 30 and farmers need to know what programs are going to be in place so they can make informed decisions for the upcoming planting season.  It is vitally important that the Senate pass a farm bill, a House-Senate conference report is approved and the President signs the bill into law as soon as possible.  The Senate delay is unfortunate and the clock is ticking.  It is time to act now.”

“The Farm Bill is, by all accounts, one of the most important pieces of conservation legislation addressed by the Congress,” said Betsy Loyless, Senior Vice-President of the National Audubon Society.  “To have this bipartisan legislation – supported by a majority of the Senate, but held up by a few who want to insert non-related subjects – is an abuse of the legislative process and an insult to Americans who depend on the Farm Bill for clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, food, fiber and energy.”