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Wisconsin Ag News Headlines
Sens. Johnson & Baldwin Spit Vote on Farm Bill
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 06/11/2013

Wisconsin's newest U.S. Senator says she is glad to see her colleagues vote in favor of a new five-year farm bill on Monday. Tammy Baldwin called the measure, which passed in the Senate on a 66-27 vote last night, a bipartisan piece of legislation that will help move Wisconsin's economy in the right direction.

"Wisconsin's family farmers have been an engine for our state's economy for generations," Sen. Baldwin said. "The Farm Bill makes important investments in our rural communities and supports an industry critical to our state's economy."

But GOP Sen. Ron Johnson doesn't feel the 'Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act' does enough to help farmers. He's argued for months that the program contains too much money for food stamps.

"About 80 percent of the spending in the bill will be spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," Sen. Johnson said in a statement. "That is out of control and should be separated from the farm bill and debated on its own merits. This bill is simply not targeted to help farm and dairy families dealing with overregulation, misguided federal policies, and weak demand brought on by terrible economic growth."

Several of the key provisions in this year's farm bill include providing training and access to capital to new farmers; creates manufacturing jobs by growing bio-manufacturing to replace oil-based products; increases the ability for farmers to sell what they grow in their local markets; and expands export opportunities for American farm products.

Baldwin says Wisconsin's farm sector will also benefit directly from several other parts of the bill. Specialty Crop Block Grants will help support research for crops like cranberries, potatoes, ginseng, and cherries. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act to provide tools for farmers including technical assistance and training programs, as well as matching funds for savings accounts and lower loan rates. And the Rural Energy Investment Act will provide funds for renewable projects including anaerobic digesters and investments in biofuel crops.

Meanwhile, the Dairy Security Act was also part of the Senate's version of the farm bill with the controversial market stabilization program in place.

The House of Representatives is expected to approve their own version of the farm bill in the coming weeks.

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