Senate Democrats

Reid: Senate Overrides Bush’s Veto Of Farm Bill To Help Americas Fight Rising Food Costs

Washington, DCSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the U.S. Senate overrode the President’s veto of the Farm Bill:

“Rapidly rising food and fuel prices have put a strain on all Americans, but especially on low-income working Americans who are struggling to put food on the table.  By overturning the President’s veto, we are making substantial investments in nutrition programs to help millions of families afford healthy food; in help for farmers hit by disaster and to protect our nation’s natural resources; and in renewable energy sources like cellulosic biofuels to help reduce our dependence on oil.  Improving our food and nutrition programs is an important step toward helping rural communities in Nevada and across the country cope with the casualties of a rising cost of living.”



Highlights of the Farm Bill:

The Farm Bill Provides Necessary Emergency Food Assistance. Because of the recent surge in food prices and economic downturn, the measure provides needed support to local area food banks struggling to help low-income families. To help strengthen the domestic food assistance safety net, the farm bill provides $1.2 billion over the next ten years to increase commodity purchases for food banks – an increase to nearly double the current level of funding. In total, the bill provides $10.3 billion in new funding for nutrition programs. [Senate Agriculture Committee: Farm Bill: Investments in the Future, 5/8/08]

  • America’s Largest Hunger Relief Organization Praised The Farm Bill. “We’re feeling very optimistic today that relief may be in sight for the more than 35 million Americans living at the margins of hunger,” said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO of America’s Second Harvest, The Nation’s Food Bank Network. “With the current economic downturn and rising food and fuel prices, this number is growing, while food inventories are scarce. It is more critical now than ever that the U.S. Senate and President Bush enact this important legislation.” [Second Harvest Press Release, 5/14/08]

The Farm Bill Improves and Enhances Food Programs for Those in Need. The measure changes the name of the food stamp program to the ‘Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,’ and provides $7.8 billion over ten years to make up for the eroded purchasing power of the benefit. Specifically, the bill increases the minimum food stamp benefit to $14 from $10, where it has been for more than 30 years, and indexes the benefit to increase with inflation. The bill also increases assistance to families with high child care expenses by allowing them to fully deduct those expenses in calculating their income and benefit levels. [Senate Agriculture Committee: Farm Bill: Investments in the Future, 5/8/08; CQ Weekly, 5/12/08; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/13/08]

The Farm Bill Provides Disaster Relief for Programs Hit By Drought or Flooding. The measure includes a disaster assistance program to assist farmers who lose crops, livestock or trees or suffer from shallow losses due to disasters such as floods or drought. The program complements the existing crop insurance program by providing additional assistance to farmers based on loss of crop revenue for their whole farm operation. The $3.8 billion program could speed up compensation, allowing them to bring crops to market faster. [Senate Agriculture Committee: Farm Bill: Investments in the Future, 5/8/08; Time, 5/13/08]

The Farm Bill Reduces Subsidies for Ethanol and Encourages the Production of Cellulosic Biofuels. The measure reduces the ethanol tax credit 6 cents to 45 cents per gallon. The ethanol tariff is also extended for two years. However, the bill allocates $300 million in mandatory funding to support the production of advanced biofuels, including biodiesel and cellulosic biofuels. [Senate Agriculture Committee: Farm Bill: Investments in the Future, 5/8/08; Time, 5/13/08; CQ Weekly, 5/12/08]