DelBene Statement in Support of Bipartisan Agreement on Final Farm Bill
Today a majority of the members on the joint House-Senate Conference Committee to negotiate the Farm Bill approved a conference report on a final five-year Farm Bill. The compromise agreement includes a number of reforms that will reduce the deficit by over $20 billion, with the majority of savings coming from reforms to agricultural subsidies, such as the elimination of direct payments. It also includes two initiatives led by Congresswoman Suzan DelBene: 1) an Employment & Training (E&T) pilot that will create programs across the country modeled after Washington state’s Basic, Food, Employment and Training (BFET); and 2) an amendment that ensures that states can be reimbursed by USDA for resources expended in another state for wildfire management. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, the only member from Washington state on the Conference Committee, issued the following statement:
“Since last fall, our nation’s farmers have been operating without a Farm Bill. This uncertainty has negatively impacted our farmers and our economy. With the Conference Committee’s approval of the Farm Bill, we’re one step closer to providing America’s farmers and families with legislation that will grow our economy and bolster America’s agricultural industry, which employs 160,000 people in Washington state alone. It includes significant funding that I fought for to help our specialty crop farmers and to provide critically important job training programs.
“Today’s bipartisan Farm Bill reduces our national deficit by over $20 billion while preserving a foundation of support vital to farmers and working families across the country. It includes significant increases in funding for research and programs that will help Washington state’s specialty crop growers such as Specialty Crop Block Grants and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. It reauthorizes important trade promotion programs that will help open up new markets for our farmers. It provides $410 million for a one-year extension of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which helps rural counties with significant federal lands in their jurisdictions fund basic local services.
“I’m proud that the Farm Bill includes $200 million to fund my proposal to expand job-training programs for SNAP recipients to learn the skills they need to get a good paying job. The programs funded by this new money will be based on Washington state’s successful Basic Food Employment & Training program, demonstrating again our state’s leadership in helping expand economic opportunity for our most vulnerable.
“What was approved by the Conference Committee today was a compromise, and as in all compromises, no one got everything they wanted. I’m disappointed that the bill includes reforms that will reduce nutrition assistance funding at a time when the need is still high. However, unlike the original House Republican proposal, which was a $40 billion cut and would have removed nearly 4 million people from SNAP, the compromise agreed to today will not eliminate SNAP eligibility for anyone still in need.
“The removal of dairy reforms that passed the House Agriculture committee and the Senate is also disappointing. These reforms would have helped Washington state’s local dairy farmers and consumers, protecting them from spikes in milk prices. What’s included in the final compromise is better than potentially causing a doubling of milk prices, but it falls short of the benefits that the Dairy Market Stabilization Program would have provided to our local farmers. Still, what was agreed to in the final bill is a step in the right direction and does more good than harm to our farmers.
“Overall, this Farm Bill represents years of hard work from a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, farmers and stakeholders from across the country to put together a bill that is good for our farmers and families. It’s a major accomplishment that will create jobs, help our farmers and preserves Americans access to quality, healthy food.”