Ag Groups Testify at Senate Farm Bill Hearing

Cindy Zimmerman

The Senate Agriculture Committee heard testimony from farmers and farm organizations Thursday on risk management priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill.

Among those who testified was National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) First Vice President Pam Johnson. “NCGA has invested time and resources to develop and analyze concepts for a new farm bill that would help farmers in times of need and be a good investment of taxpayer dollars,” said Johnson, a grower from Floyd, Iowa. “We learned that risk management is the number one priority and that federal crop insurance is the cornerstone of a sound farm safety net for the future.”

Johnson says corn growers support a transition away from the direct payments to a revenue-based risk management tool that complements crop insurance, such as the Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management program proposed by Senators Brown, Thune, Lugar and Durbin last fall. “NCGA appreciates the difficult task before your committee to write a comprehensive and balanced farm bill, especially under the current budget constraints,” said Johnson. “But, we urge Congress to pass a farm bill this year. We look forward to working with the Senate Agriculture Committee and other agriculture organizations to craft new farm legislation.”

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman told the Senate panel that national farm policy must strike a balance between the need for a strong, effective safety net to protect farmers and ranchers against catastrophic revenue losses and fiscal soundness for the nation.

“Continuation of a multi-legged stool remains the best approach for providing a fair and effective safety net,” Stallman said. “This should consist of a strong crop insurance program, continuation of the current marketing loan provisions and a catastrophic revenue loss program.”

Stallman said AFBF supports a “deep loss” program that would “not provide producers with payments as often as other proposals contemplated, it would provide more coverage in times of catastrophic losses when assistance is most critical.”

In addition, “As a general farm organization, we place high priority on ensuring the new farm bill benefits all agricultural commodity sectors in a balanced, coordinated manner,” Stallman said. He urged coverage for five fruits and vegetables – apples, tomatoes, grapes, potatoes and sweet corn – in new national farm policy and he expressed Farm Bureau’s support for the concepts included in a bill introduced by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) that would reform and improve the dairy program.

AFBF, Farm Bill, Farm Bureau, Government, NCGA