House passes Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington) today voted to pass a new five-year Farm Bill. The House passed the bill 231 to 191, which now heads to the Senate.

Etheridge is the Chair of the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management of the Agriculture Committee.

“The new Farm Bill is good not only for North Carolina farmers, but for all North Carolina families,” said Etheridge. “The bill continues our nation’s successful agricultural policies, ensuring that there is an abundant food supply for the American family’s table. It also will invest in rural communities by funding renewable energy, nutrition, rural development and conservation initiatives.”

The bill keeps intact the basic farm safety net, while making needed reforms. It also makes historic investments in conservation, rural development, energy and specialty crops like fruits and vegetables. Before the Agriculture Committee wrote the bill, Etheridge met with farmers from across the Second Congressional District in a series of listening sessions to hear what North Carolina farmers wanted to be included in the new Farm Bill. Etheridge also participated in a series of hearings with farmers across the country.

Important highlights of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) include:

  • Providing more than $1.6 billion to strengthen the fruit and vegetable industry and a new section for Horticulture and Organic Agriculture that includes nutrition, research, pest management and trade promotion programs.
  • Making important new investments in renewable energy research, development and production in rural America.
  • Investing in rural development initiatives, including economic development programs and access to broadband telecommunication services.
  • Providing farmers participating in commodity programs with a choice between traditional price protection and new market-oriented revenue coverage payments.
  • Rebalancing loan rates and target prices among commodities, achieving greater regional equity.
  • Cutting federal payment rates to crop insurance companies that are making record profits due to higher crop prices.
  • Extending and making significant new investments in popular conservation initiatives
  • Expanding the USDA Snack Program, which helps schools provide healthy snacks to students during after-school activities to all 50 states and continuing the DOD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides a variety of fresh produce to schools.
  • Strengthening and enhancing the food stamp initiative by reforming benefit rules to improve coverage of food costs and expand access to the program with additional funding support.
  • Protecting and sustaining our nation’s forest resources.