President Barack Obama officially closed out the long-journey of approving a farm bill with his signature of the bill at event on Michigan State University’s campus Friday afternoon.
In a speech before signing the bill, the President mentioned that the farm bill is more than just a farm bill, saying “it’s a jobs bill.. it’s an innovation bill, it’s a research bill, it’s a conservation bill…it's like a Swiss army knife…it multitasks.”
The president signed the farm bill at a desk on the stage, alongside Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Democratic lawmakers including Senate Agriculture Committee chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.). Over 50 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were invited to attend the event which drew over 500 attendees, but only Democrat lawmakers were in attendance.
Nonetheless, members from both sides of the aisle as well as commodity groups were quick to praise the passage and the process needed to reach this point.
House Agriculture Committee chair Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) said the signing of the law marks a “new era of farm and food policy that values saving money, reforming or repealing government programs, and yet still providing an effective safety net for production of our national food supply and for those Americans who are struggling.”
Stabenow added the bill represents a new direction for American agriculture policy. “The bill makes historic investments in land and water conservation, increases options for local and healthy foods, and protects food assistance for families who need help. This bill touches every American in every part of the country – from the food we eat, to the water we drink and the air we breathe.”
“It’s been a bumpy road for the farm bill over the past several years, with many twists and turns, but farmers never gave up nor lost momentum in working toward its passage,” said American Farm Bureau Federation Bob Stallman. “Farm Bureau believes this farm bill will give farmers and ranchers a measure of business certainty for this and coming years, allowing them to better manage risk while carrying out the important business of providing food and jobs for America.”
Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) said he looks forward to the implementation of the bill.
National Corn Growers Assn. president Martin Barbre thanked the President for signing this important legislation. “We stand ready to work with the Administration and communicate the value of this new law for our growers and those they help feed and fuel. Because of its very topic – food and the farms that provide it – this is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress has passed in some time.”
Concurrent with the President signing the farm bill into law, the White House announced a new “Made in Rural America” investment and export initiative. The White House Rural Council which is led by Vilsack, will coordinate the initiative.
While the new Made in Rural America initiative has a strong focus on growing exports, it also aims to build investments in rural economies, including through the development of local and regional food systems.