The new incarnation of the Farm Bill is coming out of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he’s very pleased with how it’s looking — and thinks farmers will be pleased, too. Harkin, a Democrat, says the legislation has taken many months to craft and will include a host of elements designed to emphasize ethanol production, wind energy and an increasing independence from foreign oil.
"We’ll have a forward-looking bill with critical new investments for the future of energy, conservation, nutrition, rural development and promoting better diets and health for all Americans," Harkin says, "America’s farmers will have important new opportunities and reforms to create a better safety net, as well as support for programs that will help beginning farmers and those who wish to transition into organic farming."
Harkin says the bill will include a new subsidy plan that will enable farmers to better insulate themselves from crop failures, though he says the majority of new elements target home-grown alternative energies.
Harkin says: "The proposal we’ve agreed to will provide one-point-three billion dollars over the next five years for investments in farm-based energy. It will support programs to help farmers begin to establish biomass crops. It’ll offer resources for grants and loans for cellulosic bio-refineries."
While Iowa is the nation’s leader ethanol production, Harkin says we need to continue expanding that industry to make the best use of ingredients –other– than corn. Harkin says: "The proposal expands markets for bio-based products. It looks to the future of energy production by offering investments in research and development of farm-based energy, as well as funding to help farmers and ranchers and rural small businesses make energy efficiency and renewable energy investments."
Harkin says the bill will be in the "mark-up" phase next week for fine-tuning and should go to the floor of the Senate the following week.