After vowing to make a new, five-year farm bill a legislative priority in 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is being backed by farm state lawmakers and agricultural groups.

On Tuesday (Jan. 22), Reid introduced the Senate-passed version of the farm bill as one of several privileged, top priority bills.

The Senate farm bill (S.2340) originally passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support on June 21, 2012. The bill reforms food and agriculture policy, consolidates programs and saves taxpayers more than $23 billion by making programs more cost-effective.

Following Reid’s actions, a statement by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, applauded his, “leadership and commitment to getting a five-year farm bill done to provide certainty to the 16 million Americans working in agriculture.

“Last year, we were able to pass a farm bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, saving more than $23 billion in taxpayer money and reforming farm bill programs to be more cost-effective and market-oriented. Unfortunately, the House didn’t bring the farm bill to the floor.

“Majority Leader Reid has demonstrated that the Senate will once again make supporting our nation’s agriculture economy while cutting spending a top priority.” 

Chairwoman Stabenow has said she is committed to convening a committee mark-up as soon as possible, to produce an updated version of the farm bill, which could then be substituted for Majority Leader Reid’s placeholder bill.

Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union president, said Reid’s approach is “a positive way to begin the year and Congressional session. NFU applauds Senate leadership for its commitment to U.S. agriculture. We appreciate the continued support of Sen. Debbie Stabenow … who has pledged to hold a committee markup of the bill as soon as possible.

“Farmers and ranchers are in need of certainty through a five-year farm bill and we will continue to work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to garner their support for a bill as soon as possible.

“NFU urges (Ohio Rep. John Boehner), Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, to make the same commitment to rural America so that we do not prolong this process much longer.”