Cantwell, Johanns Lead 42 Senators in Calling for Timely Debate on the Farm Bill

Senators: ‘We need to act soon to complete a farm bill in 2012 and provide certainty for farmers, ranchers, rural communities’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Mike Johanns (R-NE) –  along with Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) – led a bipartisan letter signed by 40 of their colleagues to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) calling for a timely floor debate on the Senate farm bill.

“With our constant focus on job creation, we write to urge you to schedule floor consideration of the ‘Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012’ as soon as possible,” the Senators wrote in the letter sent today to Senate leadership. “The bill takes steps to reduce the deficit and decrease government spending by $23 billion. It passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on April 26 with a bipartisan vote of 16 to 5. This sets an example of how Senators can come together in a bipartisan way to craft meaningful, yet fiscally responsible, policy. …We need to act soon to complete a farm bill in 2012 and provide certainty for farmers, ranchers, rural communities, other stakeholders, and all Americans.”

Click here to view the letter signed by the following 44 Senators:

John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The risk management, conservation, research, trade promotion, international food aid, and nutrition programs in the legislation impacts nearly every American. Many of these programs will expire at the end of September if no action is taken to reauthorize the farm bill.

On April 27th, Cantwell applauded Senate Agriculture Committee inclusion of continued investment in export promotion programs and specialty crops – both programs Cantwell has strongly advocated for in recent months that help Washington state farmers and producers stay competitive.

Washington state grows more than 250 specialty crops and ranks number one in production in the nation for 10 commodities, including apples, red raspberries, sweet cherries, pears, and hops. Washington state is also a top exporter of agricultural goods. Nearly $11 billion in food and agricultural products were exported through Washington ports in 2009, the third largest total in the United States.