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Kaptur applauds new agricultural bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) teamed up with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Colin Peterson (D-MN), to put her stamp on the new farm bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 231-191.

Kaptur, who has advocated for agriculture in Ohio and throughout the country as a member of the Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee, said the bill is the culmination of more than a decade and a half of effort to reform farm programs to meet the demands of a new era. She pointed specifically to proposals to reform traditional sectors such as feed grains and cotton, but also to expand emerging sectors such as bioenergy production, which received strong support on the committee draft.

Congresswoman Kaptur sent a full set of recommendations to the Agriculture Committee earlier this year:

(1) Support for local family farming, not megafarms.
The farm bill strengthens payment limits to ensure that people making more than $1 million a year (adjusted gross income) can't collect conservation and farm program payments.

(2) Improved Youth Nutrition
The bill invests more than $1.6 billion in priorities to strengthen and support the fruit and vegetable industry in the U.S. and provides $70,000,000 each year, a drastic expansion of the fresh fruit and vegetable school lunch program. The House has also funded the Commodity Supplemental Food Program at $150 million, a dramatic increase to provide food supplements for elderly Americans.

(3) Watershed Management
The farm bill drastically expands the Wetland Preservation Program to protect 1.33 million new acres of critical wetlands habitat. WRP provides a needed benefit for the critical habitat of our regions threatened wetland resources.

(4) Energy through Agriculture
The agriculture appropriations bill substantially expands bio-energy capabilities to restore America's energy independence, including $350,000,000 for subsidized loans in biomass & renewable energy and $46 million in renewable energy grants.

(5) Imported Food Labeling
Both the House Appropriations Committee and the House Agriculture Committee approved bills which would finally allow "country of origin" labeling to proceed. With Chinese agriculture posing a growing threat, the House bill provides funding for the program to begin by the end of September 2008, a date that has been long in coming.

(6) Sugar Beet Loan Program
The farm bill expands the sugar beet loan program rate to 23½ cents, a substantial increase for the area's sugar beet producers.

(7) Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
Kaptur, a longtime supporter of this coupon program that provides fresh, locally-produced fruits and vegetables to senior citizens, was proud to see a five-fold increase to $75 million by 2012 in the draft farm bill. This expansion expands this highly successful program to countless more seniors across the country and expands local markets for small and medium sized growers.

(8) Closing Tax Loopholes
The farm bill includes a measure which will close a significant corporate tax loophole that allows corporations to shelter their assets abroad. This bill uses these funds to expand the food stamp program by $4 billion.

Additionally, the proposed farm bill expands the Community Food Project Competitive Grant to link agriculture with underserved markets and the integration of urban and metro-area food production.

The annual Agriculture Appropriations bill passed by the House provides $20 million for the senior farmers' market program and $1 million for the Farmers Market Promotion program. In addition, Kaptur successfully inserted language in the Agriculture Appropriations bill which directs USDA to develop a comprehensive plan to link local agriculture with nutrition programs. USDA will begin to link average farmers to the sizable nutrition programs, one of the most sizable markets, which has been largely closed to small and medium size farmers.






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