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DeFazio Supports House Passage of Farm Bill

May 14, 2008
Press Release

Provides Salmon Disaster Assistance, Helps American Families put Food on the Table

May 13, 2008

Washington, D.C. – Rep. DeFazio today backed a bipartisan Farm Bill that will provide critical disaster assistance for Oregon salmon fisherman, strengthen American agriculture, help families facing high food costs and makes a substantial commitment to land conservation and America’s energy independence. H.R.2419, the Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act, passed by a vote of 318-106.

"I am pleased this valuable legislation provides much needed timely disaster assistance for salmon fisherman on Oregon’s coast, invests in conservation programs and provides support for increased organic food production," DeFazio said.

Passage of the Farm Bill was particularly important to the southwest coast of Oregon where commercial salmon fishing for the 2008 season has been closed. The bill includes $170 million for critical and timely disaster assistance for Oregon fisherman who are dependent on salmon harvesting for financial survival. The season close was announced May 1st.

The Farm Bill expands nutrition programs that help 38 million American families afford healthy food. The bill provides much-needed support to emergency food assistance organizations, such as food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens by increasing TEFAP funding by $1.25 billion – with $50 million for immediate shortages at food pantries. In recent years, Oregon has been considered one of the hungriest states in the country. The bill also helps schools provide healthy snacks to students. Additionally, it expands access to locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, and provides new funding to support organic farmers.

For consumers, the measure requires that food be labeled with country of origin, giving consumers the opportunity to actively not buy food from nations that have historically produced contaminated products, such as China.

To encourage conservation efforts, the Farm Bill boosts conservation programs that reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water and air quality, increase wildlife habitat and reduce damage caused by floods and other natural disasters by $7.9 million.

Under the bill, farmers will play a greater role in fueling our energy independence and moves America beyond corn based ethanol as the major venture for bio fuel development.  The Farm Bill invests $1 billion in renewable energy focusing on new technologies and new sources such as biomass, switchgrass, woodchips and corn stalks.

Finally, the legislation also begins to end payments to wealthy farmers who don’t need the help. The Farm Bill reduces direct farm payments by $300 million and cuts federal payments to crop insurance companies that are making windfall profits due to higher crop prices by $5.7 billion.

"Congress should have eliminated more subsidies from the Farm Bill. I will continue to push for more reforms so farm aid is targeted to small farmers who actually need assistance when free trade drops prices," DeFazio said.

The Farm Bill now heads to the White House for President Bush’s signature.