President Obama Signs the Farm Bill into legislation at Michigan State University. Photo by Melissa Hart.
EAST LANSING, MI -- "Despite its name the Farm Bill is not just about help for farmers. It's a jobs bill, an education bill, an infrastructure bill, a research bill, a conservation bill, it's like a Swiss Army knife," commented President Obama when he stood in front of 200 people to sign the Agriculture Act of 2014 more commonly known as the Farm Bill into legislation on Friday, Feb. 7 on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI.
Standing at a podium with a tractors and hay bales as his backdrop, President Obama praised the work of the agriculture community.
"Over the past five years thanks to the hard work of the American farmer, the best in the world, we've had the strongest stretch of farm exports in our history. And as I'm traveling around the world I'm promoting American agriculture and as a consequence we are selling stuff to more people than ever before and it supports about 1 million American jobs."
He continued, "This is a huge boost to the entire economy but especially to the rural economy."
President Obama announced a new "Made in Rural America" initiative his administration will launch to help rural businesses expand and sell more products that are made in the USA. He then went on to sign the Agriculture Act of 2014 into law flanked by several members of Congress who were an integral part of making the Farm Bill happen.
Also in attendance was the United States Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack. He commented, "Building on the historic economic gains in rural America over the past 5 years, this bill will accomplish those goals while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. While no legislation is perfect, this bill is a strong investment in American agriculture and supports the continued global leadership of our farmers and ranchers."
Leading up to the President signing the bill, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow also spoke to the group and thanked the members of the Senate Ag committee for their hard work and dedication to making the Farm Bill happen.
While the bill will move forward into implementation, several farm groups have weighed in on their perspective of the passing of the new Farm Bill.
The American Farm Bureau Federation issued a statement saying, "The farm bill provides farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming year, allowing them to continue with their business of providing food and jobs for America. We are particularly pleased with provisions in the 2014 farm bill to provide risk management to fruit and vegetable farmers and to support livestock farmers during disasters."
The American Soybean Association (ASA) thanked both chambers of Congress.
ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser said, "We are relieved and pleased to see the farm bill cross the finish line this afternoon," said.
"This vote is the culmination of years of advocacy by ASA and other farm groups on behalf of policies that help our individual crops and our collective industry move forward. We've invested a great deal of time and energy in this bill, and the final product represents a true compromise that will benefit many crops, regions and aspects of American agriculture."
National Association of Wheat Growers President Bing Von Bergen stated that the bill strengthens crop insurance and allows growers the necessary safety net to keep a secure, affordable and healthy food supply.
And National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson also sang the bill's praises. He said farmers have always been willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work that is needed to feed, fuel and clothe our nation and our world.
"It is only fitting that this legislation inspired Congress to do the hard work necessary to come together and pass a comprehensive, bipartisan five-year farm bill that enacts meaningful reforms and provides an effective safety net for farmers and needy Americans alike," Johnson said.