At the same time, however, our legislation will streamline farm programs to make them more cost-effective and efficient, and provide more than $23 billion in deficit reduction. It’s not only cost-effective, but provides real savings to help reduce the deficit and debt. Of the $23 billion it saves, $15 billion comes from farm programs and $6 billion from conservation programs. That represents a ten percent reduction in the ag budget. Producers have recognized the need for fiscal responsibility and worked with us throughout the process to put together good, strong farm legislation that spends fewer dollars.
The Farm Bill is about jobs, economic growth and national security
America’s farm economy is also an economic engine, supporting millions of jobs and generating billions of dollars in income. U.S. farmers and ranchers employ more than 16 million Americans, either directly or indirectly, in producing and processing food, fiber or fuel for our nation. Total cash receipts for producers in 2011 are expected to be a record $341 billion. In my home state of North Dakota, agricultural activities account for a quarter of the state’s economy and nearly 25 percent of all jobs.
Agriculture, moreover, has a positive balance of trade. Last year, the U.S. hit an all-time ag-export record of more than $137 billion, besting the previous record in 2008 by $22 billion. That generated a record trade surplus in agriculture of nearly $43 billion.
Finally, and perhaps most important of all, good farm policy is vital from a national security perspective. Think about the implications if we had to depend on other countries for food, as we do for oil – countries that don’t share our vital interests or values. Instead, with good farm policy, we know we can continue to rely on our hard-working farmers and ranchers right here at home.
The Farm Bill includes a strong market-based safety net for roducers
To ensure the reliability of America’s farm sector, our farm bill includes the kind of market-based risk-management tools that producers need. One of the key things we tried to do is figure out how we could help farmers and ranchers insure their crops affordably at higher levels. We did that by enhancing crop insurance with the inclusion of a Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). The SCO enables producers to purchase a supplemental policy beyond their individual farm-based policy.
In addition, the bill features a new Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program that addresses multiple-year losses. The program works with crop insurance by covering between 11 and 21 percent of a producer’s historic five-year average revenues based on price and yield.
The new farm bill enables producers to continue to produce high-quality, low-cost agricultural products for America – and at the same time, produce jobs, economic growth and security for our nation. We worked together in a bipartisan way in committee to draft and approve good farm legislation, and now I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass the bill on the Senate floor. Every American depends on it, now and into the future.
A cost-effective Farm Bill with a strong, market-based safety net
The Farm Bill is cost-effective and saves money