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McCaskill Hopes Farm Bill ‘first of many new compromises to turn - KOAM TV 7

McCaskill Hopes Farm Bill ‘first of many new compromises to turn corner on dysfunction’

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED JANUARY 31, 2014 BY THE OFFICE OF SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (MO.)

McCaskill Hopes Farm Bill ‘first of many new compromises to turn corner on dysfunction’

Following two-year-long fight by Senator to renew Farm Bill, negotiators come to bipartisan agreement

Bill creates Permanent Livestock Disaster Assistance Program, provides retroactive compensation for losses, ends Direct Payments

WASHINGTON – Following her two-year-long fight to renew the Farm Bill, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill praised this week’s bipartisan compromise agreement on a renewal, and said she hopes it represents the beginning of the end of needless dysfunction on critical legislation.

“This bipartisan legislation will provide needed resources for Missouri’s farmers and ranchers, and will boost jobs and businesses across my state—and I sincerely hope it’s the first of many agreements that mark a renewed ability to compromise, and that will turn the corner on needless dysfunction in Congress,” McCaskill said. “Missouri’s farmers and ranchers, and our rural communities have paid the price for that dysfunction. We need to do better.”

For the past two years, the U.S. Senate has passed a renewal of the Farm Bill with wide bipartisan majorities that managed to cut billions of dollars of spending, while protecting America’s farmers, ranchers, and low-income families. The U.S. House repeatedly failed to act on the comprehensive legislation. Earlier this year the House—unable to pass a comprehensive bill—split the Farm Bill into two separate pieces and passed them individually, on party-line votes. This allowed a conference committee to be formed between the Senate and House which, following months of negotiations, has merged the two bills into a compromise package.

Last year McCaskill also wrote a letter (available online HERE) to members of the Conference Committee urging them to place a cap on the total amount individual farmers can receive of $250,000—a change that would save taxpayers over $160 million a year. “We believe farm programs should offer support in tough times, but like other economic safety nets, the assistance should have limits,” the letter read. McCaskill also joined with her Republican colleague Jeff Flake of Arizona to urge the conference committee to end wasteful Direct Payments—direct cash transfers of taxpayer dollars to farmers from the government that do not take into account current yields or prices.

McCaskill vowed to continue working in future legislation to strengthen those caps.

The compromise Farm Bill announced this week:

  • Creates a Permanent Livestock Disaster Assistant Program, and will provide retroactive payments for producers who suffered losses after the previous Farm Bill expired in late 2011—a significant improvement upon previous livestock disaster provisions, which were ad-hoc or temporary;
  • Ends Direct Payments and replaces them with a program of crop insurance options to ensure farmers and ranchers retain a basic safety net;
  • Saves more than $8 billion in the SNAP (“food stamp”) program without negatively impacting Missourians who rely on this assistance;
  • And provides a year of full funding for the Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which provides funding for vital services in Missouri communities containing federal lands.

McCaskill’s advocacy on the Farm Bill was honored last year at the Golden Triangle Award Ceremony for the National Farmers Union, where she accepted the group’s highest legislative honor awarded to sitting members of Congress in recognition of her leadership working on behalf of Missouri’s rural communities.

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