U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, voted Tuesday in favor of the five-year farm bill. It’s the fourth farm bill he has voted on. (Special photo)
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday passed the compromise farm bill that was passed last week by the House, sending the legislation to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.
Both of Georgia’s senators — Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, and Johnny Isakson, R-Marietta — supported the legislation, which passed the Upper Chamber by a 68-32 vote. Last week, the bill was approved by the House by a 251-166 vote.
“I am pleased to support the 2014 Farm Bill which reforms critical farm programs, strengthens the nation’s food security, protects the livelihood of our farmers and ranchers, and preserves our efforts to remain good stewards of the environment,” Chambliss said Tuesday afternoon. “This bill embodies the promise of reform while achieving savings to contribute to lowering our debt and deficit. I am truly pleased with the options this bill offers to protect producers in times of need, while supporting our nation’s long-term economic and food security.
“I am also pleased with the language in this bill that re-links conservation compliance to crop insurance as well as streamlines and strengthens conservation programs to protect land, water, and wildlife for future generations.”
Isakson said, "This bipartisan farm bill is very important to Georgia agriculture, which is our state’s number one industry. The bill contains food stamp reforms, conservation provisions, forestry provisions and safety nets that will ensure that we continue meeting the needs of farmers in Georgia and the Southeast."
The bill calls for $956 billion in federal spending over the next 10 years, with 80 percent of that going to nutrition programs, including food stamps. The remaining 20 percent is to be spent on agriculture. It cuts annual farm bill spending by about $2.3 billion.
The legislation would cut 1 percent from the SNAP program and includes provision addressing fraud and waste. On the farm side, direct payments to farmers are ended by the bill.
The bill in the Senate, as in the House, had bipartisan support, though it pulled in two Democratic votes for each supporting Republican. Overall, 44 Democrats, 22 Republicans and two independents who caucus with the Democrats voted in favor of passage. Voting against the measure were 23 Republicans and nine Democrats.
The bill now goes to the president to be signed into law.
It is the final farm bill that Chambliss, who is leaving the Senate when his second six-year term ends in January, will vote on. He served in the House representing the 8th Congressional District before winning the Senate seat.
“This is my fourth and final farm bill as a member of Congress,” Chambliss noted. “As a former chairman and ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am proud of this bill and previous farm bills I have had the privilege to be a part of.
“I believe this legislation is vitally important to the farmers, ranchers and consumers of Georgia, as well as those across this great nation, and there is no single piece of legislation that impacts as many people in my state as this one.”