On Monday, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) discussed the Farm Bill on the Senate floor.
In part, Chairwoman Stabenow noted that, “That is why we have what we call the farm bill. We have a farm bill because farmers are in the riskiest business in the world. We saw that last year as our country was in the grip of the worst drought in generations. We saw this as ranchers had to cull their herds because they couldn’t get enough food or water for their cattle. We saw all across the country that farmers lost their crops in late spring freezes that wiped out cherry and apple crops in Michigan and other parts of the country. That is why the top goal of the agriculture reform bill is risk management. We are reforming farm programs, ending direct payments and other subsidies that have no relationship to risk and instead giving farmers market-based risk management tools. That is the hallmark of this farm bill.
“We want to make sure a farm that has been passed on for generations doesn’t face bankruptcy because of a drought or other events outside the farmer’s control. We also want to make sure that when there is a drought we are conserving our precious soil and water resources. When it comes to conservation, the farm bill is risk management for the whole country. Conservation programs in the farm bill make sure our soil doesn’t blow away and our waters aren’t polluted by runoff.
“In many parts of the country last year we had a drought that was worse than the Dust Bowl, but we didn’t have a dust bowl. We didn’t have out-of-control erosion, and that is because the farm bill did what it was supposed to do in conservation. Soil stayed on the ground. It is easy to take that for granted as well.”