Brown favors Senate Farm Bill

With one in seven Ohio jobs and more than 16 million American jobs tied to farming, a U.S. lawmaker favors passage of the Senate’s 2012 Farm Bill which calls for only $23 billion in cuts — not as drastic as two House proposals — and should help with job creation and economic relief.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown outlined provisions in the legislation — the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 — that would replace direct payments with a market-based system and would boost local food production for sale directly to consumers.

“We know how important farming is to our nation and that agriculture is Ohio’s most important business,” said Brown, who is the first Ohioan to sit on the Senate Agriculture Committee in approximately 40 years. “The 2012 Farm Bill is the most significant reform of farm policy in decades — it saves taxpayers money, it supports local farmers, it strengthened our bio-based manufacturers ability to create wealth by growing it, finding it and making it and Ohio leads in all three of those areas.

“Farmers in places like Greenville and Zanesville and livestock producers in Wooster and Wapakoneta are not the only Ohioans who will benefit as this deficit-reducing bill saves some $23 billion in taxpayer dollars,” the first-term senator said during Wednesday’s media teleconference. “It is a job creation bill, an economic relief bill, and a bill that affects every American every day. This farm bill is a reform bill that we can be proud of and that helps lay the groundwork for our nation’s economic competitiveness for generations to come.”

The centerpiece of the bill is based on the bipartisan Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management Act (AARM) aimed at replacing the direct payments with a market-based system relying on crop-year data, market prices and actual yields.

“With this bill, the era of direct payments — paying farmers for crops regardless of need or market conditions — is over,” Brown told media from throughout Ohio. “The legislation would save more than $23 billion by ending direct payments, eliminating more than 100 duplicative programs and authorizations, and cracking down on fraud and abuse.

“By eliminating direct payments and two other farm subsidy programs — steps first suggested in ARRM — the legislation would save taxpayers money and provide a more responsible risk management approach,” he said. “Under the bill, farmers receive support only when they suffer a substantial loss through events beyond their control—and only for crops they have actually planted.”

Brown also pushed for the “Grow It Here, Make It Here” and his “Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act” initiative “by helping find new markets for farmers by making it easier to sell their product directly to consumers.”

Brown outlined how his “Grow it Here, Make it Here” initiative would increase access to capital for bio-based manufacturers, improve marketing of bio-based products, and further the commercialization of new agricultural innovations to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and create jobs.

He also discussed provisions of his Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act.

“This supports Ohio farmers and ranchers who want to sell more of their food locally,” Brown said. “The act would help Ohio farmers and ranchers by addressing production, aggregation, marketing and distribution needs. It also prioritizes consumer access to help them get fresh foods, supports for technology and direct sales.

“Linking Ohio producers with Ohio consumers is common sense,” he said. “By increasing access to fresh, local foods, we can expand markets for Ohio’s agricultural producers while creating jobs and strengthening our economy.”

The bill calls for cutting food assistance programs such as SNAP by $3 billion, less than the $33 billion proposed by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and far less than the $233 billion proposed by Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul. All the proposals would make the cuts over 10 years.

He said the major roadblock in passing the bill would be regional disputes over programming and bipartisanship where Republicans would want the bill and President Barack Obama to fail.