Congressman Chris Collins, NY-27, voted Wednesday to approve the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013, and move it out of the House Agriculture Committee. The bill was passed by a large, bipartisan vote of 36-10.
"I am proud the committee was able to come together and pass a farm bill that will give American farmers the certainty they need to plan for the future," Collins said. "Agriculture is critical to the economy of Western New York, and I am proud to have been able to represent the farmers of my district on this important issue."
Collins also helped secure additional funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, which provides funding to land grant universities, such as Cornell University, to conduct research on specialty crops. Last year's farm bill, which was not passed on the House floor, included $450 million in funding for the SCRI over 10 years. The FARRM Act of 2013 includes $600 million in mandatory funding for the program, which had expired under the current nine-month extension.
Securing funding for the SCRI was important to Collins as specialty crops farmers across Western New York have consistently cited how critical the ability to conduct research is to their enterprise and industry as it will pioneer new technologies, advanced plant varieties, and help New York farmers generate higher profits.
"New York Farm Bureau is very appreciative of Congressman Chris Collins' commitment to New York's farmers. His support in committee of the 2013 farm bill sets the stage to provide a stronger safety net for our dairy and specialty crop farmers who help support their local economies," said Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau.
The legislation also contained major reforms to current U.S. dairy policy. The milk income loss contract program and dairy product price support program have been replaced with a new margin protection program that will better reflect a dairy farmer's real costs by now equating the cost of feed. This program will ensure Western New York dairy farmers get the support they need to meet the market demands.
The program, known as the dairy market stabilization plan or "supply management," which would dictate how much a dairy farmer could produce, was also included in the bill. Collins supported an amendment that would strike this program after hearing near unanimous opinion from his agriculture advisory board that "supply management" would inflate prices for consumers, restrict dairy industry growth, and burden farmers with additional government intervention.
Similar legislation was completed on Tuesday in the Senate Committee on Agriculture. The farm bill will now need to be debated on the House floor.
"I am proud of the committee's effort to advance a farm bill with significant savings and reforms. We achieve nearly $40 billion in savings by eliminating outdated government programs and reforming others. No other committee in Congress is voluntarily cutting money, in a bipartisan way, from its jurisdiction to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues and the bipartisan nature in which this legislation was written and approved. I look forward to debating the bill on the House floor this summer," said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (OK-3).
For more information on the FARRM Act, including en bloc amendment details, click here.
•FARRM saves nearly $40 billion in mandatory funds, including the immediate sequestration of $6 billion.
•FARRM repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs.
•FARRM eliminates direct payments, which farmers received regardless of market conditions.
•FARRM streamlines and reforms commodity policy while also giving producers a choice in how best to manage risk.
•FARRM includes the first reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, saving more than $20 billion.
•FARRM consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13, improving program delivery to producers and saving more than $6 billion.
•FARRM builds on previous investments to fruit and vegetable production, farmers markets and local food systems.
•FARRM includes several regulatory relief measures to help mitigate burdens farmers, ranchers and rural communities face.