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Senators vote 'no' to Farm Bill; Farm Bureau says bill has 'no safety net'

WASHINGTON — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have both voted against the 2012 farm bill because they say it was not modified enough to make it more equitable to crops grown predominately in Southern states.

The Senate yesterday approved the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (S.3240) on a 64-35 vote without the support of Mississippi’s U.S. Senators. The Senate-passed farm bill is a five-year reauthorization of federal agriculture, food assistance and rural development programs that will cost nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.

“Unfortunately, farmers across the South will suffer a disproportionate loss of support under the bill the Senate adopted,” said Cochran, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “I had hoped that reasonable modifications could be made to ensure the farm bill provides fair producer options to all regions of the country. The one-size-fits-all approach in the Senate bill places unfair burdens on some crops and regions, and puts them at a distinct disadvantage for investing in rural infrastructure and agriculture-related jobs.”

Cochran and Wicker said they are hopeful that an acceptable 2012 farm bill might be achieved through conference committee negotiations to reconcile differences between the Senate-passed bill and legislation being crafted in the House of Representatives.

The state’s largest general farm organization has expressed its concerns over Farm Bill legislation.

Mississippi Farm Bureau president Randy Knight said, “After careful review, we feel like the bill put forth by the Senate has true potential to leave many of Mississippi’s farmers and ranchers without a viable safety net in times of uncertainty.  Certain commodities were left with little means to mitigate major risks in the market, leaving these farmers with virtually no farm safety net.

“We have strong commodity prices right now, but we all know these prices will not remain this high.  When these markets change, Mississippi’s farmers need a viable safety net to provide stability for the sake of our domestic source of food. This Farm Bill simply doesn’t provide such protection for several of Mississippi’s commodities. We feel like the House of Representatives will work on legislation that may provide more favorable support for these commodities.  We certainly hope the House and Senate can come to an agreement in conference on a bill that provides the protection many of our members need.”


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