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President signs farm bill into law

Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 02/24/2014 11:22 PM

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We have a farm bill.
President Obama signed the farm bill into law on Friday at Michigan State University's campus.
"It's been a while since Minnesota's corn farmers went into a planting season with the certainty that a farm bill provides," said Ryan Buck, of Goodhue, president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. "Being a farmer requires patience and perseverance, both of which came in handy during this process. We look forward to the stability that this farm bill will provide over the next five years."
The bill ends direct payments and funnels that money toward crop insurance, a more politically palatable subsidy. It provides permanent disaster assistance, which is retroactive to help the ranchers and farmers impacted by snowstorm Atlas. It consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13. It also funds nutrition programs.
“With the president having signed the bill into law, we’re finally giving Minnesota’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities the certainty they need to plan for the future," said Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. "With one in five Minnesota jobs connected to agriculture, it's critically important that we finished the job."
Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, thanked Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Sen. Thad Cochran, for their support. Democrat Stabenow chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee and Cochran is the ranking Republican. The Senate passed the bill 68-32 on Feb. 4.
"After years of hard work and perseverance, the farm bill has shown that compromise is still possible in Washington," Peterson said.
The details of every program aren't available yet and it's early to ask details as to how this or that program will work, said Minnesota Farm Bureau president Kevin Paap.
He is excited that a farm girl from Georgia, Krysta Harden, will be involved in implementing the bill. Harden is a USDA deputy secretary.
Paap met with Harden in June when he was in Washington to talk about winterkill, forage shortages and poor spring planting conditions in Minnesota.
Harden understands farmers and she understands that the role of the USDA is to help farmers and ranchers, he said.
While the farm bill moves into the implementation phase, farmers need to keep their attention in Washington, Paap said. Immigration reform, the Water Resources Development Act, trade and who owns all the data being collected on citizens are issues farmers need to monitor and be heard on.