Hoeven, Baucus Spearhead Bipartisan Letter to Senate Leadership Calling for Passage of Farm Bill Before Year's End

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today spearheaded a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership asking them to move a full, five-year farm bill by the end of the year. The senators requested that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell consider folding the strong, bipartisan farm legislation that passed the Senate in June into any end-of-the year package Congress passes in the remaining days of the year.

Hoeven and Baucus pointed to the various reforms in the bill, including a savings of $23 billion to apply to the deficit through the elimination of direct payments and an enhanced crop insurance title.

“Members from both sides of the aisle came together and passed farm policies that cut the deficit by over $23 billion while making smart, common-sense reforms that ensure the farm safety net works for both the American taxpayer and the American agricultural producer,” the senators wrote. “Our country’s farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, and they need strong farm policies to ensure they can continue providing our nation with a safe and reliable food source.”

The senators pointed out that agriculture supports more than 16 million jobs in the United States and produces a domestic supply of food, fiber and fuel, as well as an agricultural trade surplus for the country. This year the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that agriculture exports for fiscal year 2013 are projected to reach a record $143 billion in 2013, resulting in an agricultural trade surplus of over $26 billion.

“While the increase in agriculture exports is welcomed news, our producers are still struggling from the extreme drought, spring deep freeze, and other weather disasters across the country this past season,” the senators wrote. “To date, 2,196 counties are currently under primary USDA drought disaster designations.”

“Congress has some serious challenges to meet before the end of the year; however, every challenge is an opportunity, including the farm bill which can help us cut the debt and create jobs,” they said.

In addition to Hoeven and Baucus, other senators who signed on to the letter include: Senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Michael Bennet (D-Col.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Robert Casey (D-Conn.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Mark Udall (Col.).