Statement by Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner Regarding the need for a new farm bill:

"I believe Congress has a responsibility to deliver a new farm bill. The Administration unveiled our comprehensive farm bill proposal nearly 11 months ago for the very purpose of delivering a new farm bill before farmers faced difficult decisions due to uncertainty about future farm policy.

"Farmers themselves asked us to fix the current farm bill, which pays them the most in their best years and offers little or no support when they really need it due to crop loss. Failure to pass a new farm bill would continue a defective safety net.

"We heard a strong message from specialty crop growers who simply asked for more equitable support in the form of funding for research and fighting trade barriers. Failure to pass a new farm bill would send specialty crop growers a message that they haven't yet earned more equitable treatment in farm policy.

"Priorities such as conservation, nutrition and renewable energy would all be shelved without a new farm bill.

"People who are among the wealthiest two percent of American tax filers would continue to receive income support payments if farm policy is not changed.

"There is still time for Congress to pass a new farm bill. The Senate must act quickly to engage in a full and open debate and to deliver a farm bill that contains honest bookkeeping without raising taxes.

"For more than two years we have talked about the promise and potential of a new farm bill. There are differing views as to the specific provisions, but it is widely recognized and documented in thousands of comments from farmers across the country that farm policy can and should be improved.

I urge Congress to demonstrate its commitment to farmers and other farm bill stakeholders by delivering a new farm bill that serves farmers and America well."