Sen. Franken Backs New Five-year Farm Bill in Senate
Says Measure is Among Top Priorities For Him, Senate Leaders This Year
U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said passing a new five-year Farm Bill will be a top priority for him and for Senate leaders this year, as he cosponsored legislation similar to the measure that passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2012. Sen. Franken, who authored key portions of the Farm Bill, fought hard last year to get a five-year bill passed into law.
Sen. Franken said he's optimistic that House leaders, who blocked passage of a five-year bill in 2012, will be more open to the legislation this year. Last year's failure by the House to pass a five-year bill yielded only a one-year extension that is scheduled to expire in September. The new legislation Sen. Franken cosponsored this week was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as one of his priority bills.
"I'm very pleased that Senate leaders have joined me in making the passage of a five-year Farm Bill a top priority," said Sen. Franken. "The measure is critically important to farmers, ranchers and businesses across Minnesota, where one in five jobs are supported by agriculture. A new five-year measure will give our producers the certainty they need to invest and plan their operations. The current extension doesn't give them that."
The new Senate measure cuts the cost of the nation's farm policy by $23 billion, while at the same time modernizing programs and strengthening the farm safety net, the need for which was underscored by last year's drought. It also makes important investments in renewable energy, the conservation of our land and water, dairy program stability, and in food and nutrition programs.
The measure includes Sen. Franken's provision - backed by Minnesota farm groups - to help farmers and small businesses save money and earn income by investing in renewable energy and energy-efficient technology. It also includes a provision he co-authored to support beginning farmers.
Sen. Franken said he expects work to begin on the bill in the coming weeks.