Duckworth Votes for Farm Bill to Support Farmers, Working Illinoisans & Families
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) released the following statement applauding the inclusion of several Illinois priorities in the Farm Bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate today with Duckworth’s vote. The legislation includes provisions that will ensure farmers receive the assistance they need, support Veteran farmers and urban agriculture efforts, and create historic investments in land and water conservation.
“The strength of America's farmers is a reflection of the strength of our nation. This bipartisan legislation will make our Illinois farmers more competitive while helping working families, supporting millions of jobs and protecting our environment,” said Duckworth. “I urge my House colleagues to pass this legislation swiftly, and I'll continue my work in the Senate to ensure our farmers have the resources and certainty they need to support our nation's food supply, fuel our cars and grow our economy.”
Today’s Senate-passed legislation includes the following Duckworth priorities:
The Senate Farm bill strengthens the Military Veteran Liaison program, which supports servicemembers as they transition from active duty to civilian life, and requires additional public information about Veteran farmer participation in USDA programs. It also gives Veteran farmers discounts and priority in a variety of farm programs, loans, risk management tools, education programs and disaster assistance programs.
Farm Risk Management
The Farm Bill reauthorizes and protects the successful commodity safety net and Federal Crop Insurance provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, while making small changes to address implementation challenges and to expand risk management options for all types of producers:
• Improves risk protection for farmers who currently do not have crop insurance available by more than doubling the maximum coverage and creates an “on-ramp” to crop insurance by requiring an annual addition of new crops, counties, and types of policies;
• Maintains the linkage between following basic conservation protections and participating in the Federal Crop Insurance and expands voluntary ‘sod saver’ nationwide.
The Farm Bill establishes permanent mandatory baseline funding for USDA export promotion programs and invests $515 million in export promotion programs.
The Farm Bill creates mandatory permanent funding for local foods, farmers markets, and value-added producer grant programs by combining these programs into the Local Agriculture Market Program. The bill also requires improvement of the Whole Farm Revenue Protection and development of a new local food and greenhouse crop insurance policy.
For the first time, the Farm Bill supports new policy and funding for urban agriculture, including:
• The creation of a new office, advisory committee, and two pilot programs focused on compost and Farm Service Agency committees to develop new policy and support development of urban agriculture;
• Establishes a new urban agriculture research program with mandatory funding and creates a new grant program to support the development of urban agriculture;
• Requires USDA to update its farm policy to include urban and indoor farmers to ensure they can access loans, conservation programs, and risk management tools and establishes new soil testing and remediation assistance for urban growers;
• Creates a new soil testing and remediation program within the conservation title to help urban producers address lead and other contaminants.
The Farm Bill continues historic investments in land and water conservation. The bill makes no cuts to funding from the conservation title and preserves the largest working lands program, the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), unlike the House bill which cuts nearly $1 billion from conservation and eliminates CSP:
• Increases investments in the Regional Conservation Partnership Program to leverage an additional $1 billion in private investments for conservation efforts focused on water quality, drought, and wildlife habitat and in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to protect agricultural lands and wetlands;
• Creates a new conservation initiative using data analysis to help farmers get the most out of conservation by identifying the practices that will improve farm productivity and profitability;
• Increases focus on source water protection and soil health initiatives across multiple programs, including planting of cover crops, to help farmers address climate change, water quality, and drought;
• Adds 1 million new acres to the Conservation Reserve Program and prioritizes water quality, wildlife habitat, and grasslands of special significance;
• Provides $40 million for the Voluntary Public Access program to encourage landowners to allow public recreation on their land.
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