STEVE WYCKOFF: Kudos for passing the bipartisan Farm Bill

TO THE EDITOR:

Last week the Senate Agriculture Committee, chaired by our own U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, did what many thought impossible: They passed a bipartisan piece of legislation, the Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, out of committee.

More commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, the legislation covers everything from farmer commodity support, conservation, food stamps, energy and rural development and more. Although legislators cut $23 billion compared to the last Farm Bill, they did an admirable job of maintaining key provisions in the bill, streamlined complicated and numerous programs, and managed to generate bi-partisan support – quite a feat these days in Congress.

Sen. Stabenow is to be commended, whether you agree with her politics or not.

She did a great job of reaching across the aisle to craft legislation that was good for America – for farmers and conservationists, for those in need of food stamps and rural development, and many others. Republican Senators, in the minority, deserve credit for working with Stabenow and her staff to come to agreement. It was refreshing to see that some in Congress care more about the future of our country rather than their own party.

As a conservationist, I appreciate the wetland easement program being streamlined and continued, as well as the Conservation Reserve Program being maintained at a higher level than was forecasted. Including the Sodsaver program (which eliminates incentives for converting native prairie and wetlands lands into production) in the bill is a big win for ducks, pheasants and those of us who like to hunt them.

Are there still items in the bill that concern me? You bet!

We need to ensure our wetlands and native landscapes are properly protected so we don’t encourage more problems with flooding and poor water quality.

However, I am heartened by the “can do” spirit the Senate Agriculture Committee displayed. Now the full Senate and House of Representatives need to join in that spirit and get the Farm Bill passed!

STEVE WYCKOFF

Greenville

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