SHAHEEN: BIPARTISAN FARM BILL WILL RENEW OIL-HEAT PROGRAM, SUPPORT NEW HAMPSHIRE FARMERS

Bill also includes Shaheen-backed provisions to reform agriculture programs

February 04, 2014

(Washington, DC) – Today on a 68-32 vote, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan Farm Bill that includes multiple New Hampshire priorities and will protect small farmers, fight hunger and save taxpayers billions. The five-year Agricultural Act of 2014 makes targeted investments in our nation’s agricultural and nutrition sectors while eliminating some of the wasteful subsidies that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. 

After a nearly three years-long process, the 2014 Farm Bill also includes important provisions championed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), including a five-year reauthorization for the widely supported National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA) program, protections for New Hampshire’s small dairy farmers,  and language to help preserve New Hampshire’s open spaces and working forest roads.

“What we passed today was an important and bipartisan agreement that will support New Hampshire’s farmers, rural communities, and most importantly, New Hampshire jobs,” Shaheen said. “Small dairy farmers who represent an important part of our economy are getting some great news that will help protect their businesses while our farm lands and working forests will retain important protections that are critical to our economy and way of life.”

For months Shaheen has worked closely with House and Senate negotiators to include safeguards for small dairy farmers who are struggling to deal with high feed costs and volatility in milk prices.  Additionally, Shaheen fought to maintain the Environmental Protection Agency’s longstanding approach to regulating forest roads according to state-adopted best management practices. Shaheen’ s efforts will allow for the continued sustainable development of working forests in New Hampshire.

The legislation also adopts language nearly identical to Shaheen’ s bipartisan Oilheat Efficiency, Renewable Fuel Research and Jobs Training Act, which renews the oilheat industry’s popular national program for research and development, consumer education and technical training. NORA’s reauthorization will benefit consumers through the development of improved and efficient equipment, increased safety through technician training and the availability of up-to-date information regarding safety practices and fuel conservation – at no additional consumer costs.

“For many New Hampshire households, NORA means better, more efficient heat at no added cost,” Shaheen said. “NORA’s inclusion in the Farm Bill is good for consumers, American businesses and the environment, and will provide tangible value for many years to come.” 

While the 2014 Farm Bill yields more than $16 billion in cuts, Shaheen says the bill does not go far enough and will continue to work toward greater savings and transparency on agricultural spending. 

“As we confront our federal debt and deficit, and as millions of families across the country are tightening their belts, we ought to make the practical bipartisan reforms I’ve introduced,” Shaheen said. “The Farm Bill makes some good reforms to subsidy programs, but it did not go far enough. I will continue working to end wasteful Farm Bill programs and protect taxpayers in every way I can.” 

Shaheen has led ongoing efforts to eliminate wasteful spending in the Farm Bill, which would help protect taxpayer dollars and save money. For months, Shaheen and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) have pushed to eliminate the duplicative USDA catfish program, which is expected to cost taxpayers millions to develop and $15 million annually to operate. Shaheen has also worked with bipartisan coalitions on efforts to cap crop insurance premium subsidies  and to reform the U.S. sugar program, which would each save taxpayers millions.