December 11, 2007

CRAPO URGES TIMELY PASSAGE OF SENATE FARM BILL

Says Committee bill is a careful balance

Washington, DC - During a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate today, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo urged his colleagues to continue to work together in a bipartisan fashion to advance this legislation through the Senate prior to the end of the year. Crapo, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007 before the Senate is a careful balance between nutrition programs, conservation efforts, renewable energy, trade initiatives and support for agricultural producers.

"Much work has been done in this Farm Bill to try to provide adequate support for farm families across this nation, while carefully balancing limited funding available to each of the titles of the bill," Crapo said. "It is important to ensure that this balance is maintained throughout the Farm Bill debate."

Crapo highlighted the inclusion in the legislation of initiatives he has championed, such as:
• Incentives for private landowners to voluntarily protect endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)
• Assistance for rural communities to comply with federal water and wastewater regulations
• Promotion of environmentally-friendly pulse crops
• Strengthened assistance for specialty crop producers
• Expansion of healthy school snack programs featuring fruits and vegetables in more classrooms

Crapo also noted the importance of the conservation program, which provides landowners with both the financial and technical assistance necessary to bring real environmental results. "I have often said the most important environmental legislation we consider in Congress is the Farm Bill," said Crapo. "The Farm Bill before us provides $4.4 billion in new conservation spending."

As its title suggests, the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007 incorporates important energy initiatives, such as support for biofuels, particularly cellulosic ethanol, rural energy and biomass production. Crapo said America's energy future depends, in part, on these provisions set forth in the bill. He noted the U.S. has been too dependent on foreign sources of petroleum and the Farm Bill offers hope to integrate a more diverse energy portfolio.

"The largest energy reserves in our nation reside in the farmland and forests across our country," he added. "The stored energy in biomass worldwide amounts to approximately 50 billion tons of crude oil equivalent units every year, over five times our current energy needs.

The Senate is expected to continue consideration of amendments to the Farm Bill throughout the week in an effort to secure Senate passage prior to the end of the year.