INDIANAPOLIS — It is with relief that Indiana Farm Bureau’s 70,000 farmer members salute Congress’ passage of a new farm bill, which passed the Senate on Feb. 4 on a 68-32 vote after earlier passing the House 251-166.

The Agricultural Act of 2014 will provide farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming year and allow the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin planning for implementation of the bill’s provisions, said IFB President Don Villwock, a grain farmer from Knox County.

“No bill is perfect, and that includes this one,” he said. “But it does provide additional risk management tools for grain, livestock and fruit and vegetable farmers while still saving taxpayers’ money — about $23 billion over 10 years.”

Most of the savings come from the elimination of direct cash payments to farmers.

Farmers desperately needed to know what to expect from the federal farm program before making planting decisions this spring, Villwock said. The bill that was passed does provide a degree of assurance and stability, he said.

Villwock also expressed appreciation to the conferees, who have been working for months to craft a bipartisan compromise, and to the members of the Indiana congressional delegation who voted for the bill. It has been a long and drawn-out process and their efforts to listen and to be supportive of needed reforms is much appreciated, he said.

“It’s been a long, hard debate,” the farm leader said. “The most important role of a farm bill is providing a basic, no-frills safety net for farmers when times are hard, and we believe that even with its flaws, this bill will do just that.”