May 22, 2008

Crapo Cites AG Opportunities In Override Vote

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo voted to override the President's veto of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, commonly called the Farm Bill, today citing the need to enact the new Farm Bill to increase energy and environmental opportunities on farm land, and provide needed certainty for rural communities and all Americans. The Senate overrode the veto by a vote of 82 to 13.

"Agriculture is a more than $5 billion industry in Idaho and an integral part of our state's economy," said Crapo. "In my view, having been involved in the crafting of the last three Farm Bills, ensuring the stability and success of Idaho producers is not a negative but a positive for Idaho's economy. We have seen these gains under the current successful programs, and this legislation builds on that past successful Farm Bill."

Crapo, a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, addressed criticisms of the bill, which have included complaints about high spending levels for agriculture at a time of high commodity prices. "However, the prices we are seeing now in farm country are not permanent," Crapo noted. "Despite the high prices, producers are also struggling to deal with increasing input costs, including high fuel, fertilizer, transportation, and labor costs. The measure will help to keep farmers on the land when prices fall. Additionally, despite the incorrect assumption that all the spending in the bill is going to farmers, the vast majority of the funds-more than 70 percent-go to nutrition programs, food stamps and local food bank operations."

The Farm Bill has also been criticized for not providing enough reform and not doing enough to limit assistance for wealthy farmers. Crapo said this Farm Bill makes substantial reforms; in fact, the legislation would enable commodity producers to elect to take a significant reduction in direct payments and loan rates to participate in a new state-level revenue program. The Farm Bill would also eliminate the Triple Entity Rule and change the current Adjusted Gross Income limit from $2.5 million to $500,000 nonfarm or $750,000 farm income.

Yesterday, members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to override the President's veto by a vote of 316 to 108. However, enactment was complicated due to an error, which removed the Trade Title from the version of the Farm Bill sent to the President. The vote in the Senate today will enable all of the Farm Bill except the Trade Title to take effect while Congress and the Administration further address the situation with the Trade Title.