Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Expiration Of The Current Farm Bill At Midnight Sunday Night

[Current Farm Bill programs expired Sunday night (Sept. 30, last night) at Midnight, with no new Farm Bill in place.  House leaders failed to bring a Farm Bill to the House Floor after the Senate passed a bipartisan Farm Bill on June 21 with a strong bipartisan vote.  Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the most senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, And Forestry, led efforts to include several key components in the Senate Farm Bill, including a new dairy safety net program – to help break the harmful rollercoastering of milk prices -- based on a federally subsidized margin insurance program and a “market stabilization” provision to discourage over-supply of milk. Other Leahy-led efforts in the Senate bill include renewal of the Forest Legacy Program and the Community Open Space Program, all of which he authored in earlier Farm Bills.  Another Leahy provision in the Senate bill would continue the successful Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone program, which has contributed to economic development in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.  Vermont highlights of the Senate-passed Farm Bill are available at this link:  http://www.leahy.senate.gov/press/vermont-highlights-of-the-agriculture-reform-food-and-jobs-act .  Leahy’s comments on expiration of the current Farm Bill follow:]

“Vermont’s farms and rural communities are a key pillar of our state’s economy, and we always have a big stake in any Farm Bill.  It was irresponsible and unprecedented for House leaders to head for home leaving the Farm Bill undone.  With high feed costs and other challenges, dairy farming is tough enough these days without piling this needless uncertainty on farmers’ shoulders.

“Now that the Farm Bill has expired, USDA today has far fewer tools to help America’s farmers and rural communities.  Expiration of the Farm Bill also strands vital research, nutrition and agricultural trade initiatives.  Dairy farmers will feel the immediate impact financially, with the expiration of the Milk Income Loss Contract program, while at the same time they are facing soaring feed costs caused by the drought that are inducing herd liquidations and financial failures across the country.  If the House continues to block action on the Senate’s bipartisan Farm Bill, consumers could face skyrocketing milk prices come January, when dairy programs revert to an outdated 1949 law that could double the price of milk.”

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