Tester: Farm Bill is ‘rural America’s investment plan’

Family farmer weighs in on agriculture legislation

"Video(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Calling it "rural America’s investment plan," one of the U.S. Senate’s only family farmers today said the Farm Bill is key to the nation’s food security and energy independence.

In a speech on the Senate floor today, Senator Jon Tester also called on his colleagues to follow suit, and he urged President Bush to sign the measure into law.  The Senate is expected to vote on the Farm Bill as early as today.

"Is it perfect?  No," said Tester, who operates an 1,800-acre family grain farm near Big Sandy.  "But is it pretty darn good?  Yes.  This Farm Bill does things for people in production agriculture that it needs to do to make sure that they remain in business."

Tester said that keeping family farms in business is critical to securing America’s food supply.  If the U.S. loses family agriculture, he added, "this country will change forever—and not for the better."

"We’ve been very fortunate in the United States," Tester said.  "We haven’t suffered the kind of lack of food that other countries have.  And it’s because of Farm Bills of the past, I believe.  And it’s because family farmers have done such a great job meeting this country’s food demands."

The Farm Bill also helps Americans struggling to pay for basic groceries due to the rising cost of food.

Tester noted that commodity prices are currently high.  But the cost of farming and ranching has skyrocketed in recent months.  Diesel prices doubled in the last year.  Chemical and fertilizer prices have "gone through the roof."

During his floor speech Tester waved several East Coast and West Coast newspapers that recently editorialized against the Farm Bill, challenging their editors to "come out to Montana and visit somebody who has their hands in the dirt."

"This bill is about food security for this country," Tester said.  "This bill is about rural development, about making rural America all it can be, creating jobs and helping meet this country’s energy needs, creating a level of energy independence."

The Farm Bill contains a provision by Tester that offers federal crop insurance for farmers who grow camelina, a plant that grows well in Montana and does not compete with food crops.  Oil from camelina seeds can be converted into biodiesel.

Click here for Tester’s floor speech.