Tester lends a “farmer’s perspective” to 2007 Farm Bill

One of Senate’s only farmers calls for key provisions for family agriculture


(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Senator Jon Tester, one of the only farmers in the U.S. Senate, today called on his colleagues to support key provisions in the upcoming 2007 Farm Bill to sustain America's family farms and ranches.

The full Senate will take up the legislation in the coming days.  Tester has worked closely with his colleagues to lend a "Montana farmer's perspective" to the legislation.

"This Farm Bill is critical for farmers and ranchers in Montana and across the country" said Tester, who runs an 1,800-acre dryland grain farm near Big Sandy.  "It's about food security—making sure our country can feed itself without having to rely on other countries.  It's about energy security.  And it's about making sure millions of farmers and ranchers continue to be the backbone of America."

The 2007 Farm Bill is expected to include a measure by Tester providing federal insurance for camelina, a plant that grows easily in Montana.  Oil from camelina seeds can be converted into biodiesel.

Tester also introduced legislation to provide federal assistance to farmers who want to convert to organic production—a process that takes several years and often results in a temporary decline in crop yield.  Tester switched to organic farming nearly 20 years ago because it added value to his crops and make his farm more viable.

Tester has repeatedly said that an adequate Farm Bill must have following three components:

  • A safety     net that works for family     farmers and ranchers, so that natural disasters like droughts, floods     hailstorms or grasshoppers don't wipe out family farms and ranches for     good.  Tester has called for countercyclical assistance, which helps     family farmers in bad years.
  • It     must provide incentives for farmers and ranchers to produce renewable     energy, such as biofuels.
  • It     must finally implement a nationwide Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)     program

Tester has advocated COOL for the past ten years.  Under his leadership in the state Senate, Montana implemented its own COOL program.

"For too long big agri-business has stood in the way of COOL," Tester said.  "It's about time the federal government steps up to the plate so folks know where the food on their dinner table comes from."