Leahy Statement At The Agriculture Committee Markup Of The Farm Bill

Thank you, Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow, for working together in a bipartisan fashion to draft this 2018 Farm Bill. This bill is a demonstration of what the Senate can achieve when we cast aside the rancor and rhetoric, and focus on the real challenges we face.  In fact, this bill reminds me of the compromises made during my tenure as Chairman or Ranking Member of this Committee.  Our nation’s agricultural, food, and environmental systems all benefit from provisions included in this bill. 

Vermont farmers and families rely on the support and guidance outlined in the Farm Bill so that our farms – large and small – are productive, that our children are nourished, and that our air, land and water are protected.  This bill makes important improvements on all of those fronts. Rural communities across Vermont, and every corner of America, will directly benefit from this bill.

The Farm Bill – like spending bills – are where we set priorities. Farmers everywhere are facing increasingly difficult times, and Vermont is no exception. Our dairy farms, the backbone of many of our communities, have faced significant challenges in recent years and it is a very hard time for them. This bill is another opportunity to provide the support and security dairy farmers deserve with higher levels of risk coverage under the improved Dairy Risk Coverage program.

This committee also has the responsibility of providing nutritional support for our citizens as well as to reduce hunger worldwide. The fight against food insecurity helps to increase productivity of our workers, strengthens rural communities, makes sure our kids are learning, and also increases stability worldwide with programs like the McGovern-Dole.

This bill also sustains conservation efforts, and supports the organic industry, which continues to grow in size and popularity. When I authored the first Organic Farm Bill in 1990, none of us could have imagined the rapid expansion of this now-$50 billion industry.

Rural communities in Vermont and across the country will see the benefits of this Farm Bill and its critical support for economic development and addressing the unique needs of our rural communities.

In short – this is a good bill.  It is a strong bill.  It is a bill reflective of the bipartisanship that has long been a hallmark of this Committee.  As this panel’s most senior member, I can attest to that.

I am committed to working with you, Senator Roberts, and you, Senator Stabenow, to further improve and advance this bill, in the great tradition of Farm Bills past.

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