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By Sen. Clare McCaskill
For more than two years, Missouri’s farmers and ranchers have gone to work each day with lingering uncertainty about our government’s agriculture policy.
This week’s passage of a comprehensive, bipartisan Farm Bill will finally help ease that uncertainty.
The compromise agreement is a win for the backbone of Missouri’s economy, and one I’ve tirelessly fought for since before the last Farm Bill expired. It brings much-needed resources to our farm families, boosts jobs and businesses, protects low-income families, and will be a boon to our rural communities – all while cutting billions of dollars in spending. Specifically, the bill retains a strong safety net for farmers and ranchers, without unfairly padding the bottom line. It saves millions of dollars in food stamp payments, without installing cruel and unrealistic requirements. And it provides retroactive compensation for losses over the past two years.
The compromise Farm Bill also ends Direct Payments and replaces them with a program of crop insurance options, as well as provides a year of full funding for the Payment In Lieu of Taxes program, which provides funds for vital services in Missouri communities that have federal lands.
For the past two years, the U.S. Senate passed a renewal of the Farm Bill with wide bipartisan majorities. The U.S. House—repeatedly unable to pass a comprehensive bill—ultimately split its Farm Bill into two separate pieces and passed them each on party-line votes. After months of negotiations, the House and Senate merged the two bills into a compromise package. The legislation was approved by the Senate 68-32 and now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.
Everyone can find something in this bill to dislike. I certainly did. But often that’s the mark of a good compromise, and I hope this is the beginning of a new trend in Congress.
In recent months, Congress has passed a comprehensive appropriations bill to fund government operations, a budget, and now the Farm Bill – accomplishments I hope are a template for compromise to break the gridlock that has prevented this Congress from the doing work the American people expect of it.
Missouri’s farmers and ranchers have already paid the price for Congressional inaction. The simple fact is, the economic well-being of our rural communities should never be a partisan issue.
Last year I was honored to receive the National Farmers Union’s Golden Triangle Award for work on behalf of Missouri’s rural communities. I pledged then, as I do now – that I will continue to work tirelessly for our rural communities and for all Missouri families.
Claire McCaskill is the senior U.S. Senator from Missouri.