While farmers are busy getting crops in the ground this week, members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees will be busy trying to get a 2012 Farm Bill off the ground.
As the Senate Ag Committee released a draft proposal on Friday, several agricultural organizations sent a letter to the leadership thanking them, while at the same time expressing a few concerns.
Co-signed by eight organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Corn Growers Association, the letter commended the committee for adhering to its original proposal of $23 billion in deficit reduction, and for not proposing to restructure the federal crop insurance program or to reduce its funding for deficit reduction purposes.
“Even with the clear and real need to reduce our federal deficit, it remains in the best interest of our nation to help ensure a basic level of risk management for farmers and our food supply,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “Farming is a risky business. There is no doubt about that, and crop insurance is a key principle in the goal to provide farmers a dependable safety net.”
In response to concerns from other commodity groups about a revenue-based approach, the groups advocate making changes in the crop insurance program to enhance its viability as a risk management tool, while maintaining the effectiveness of the existing program for other commodities. The groups do not, however, support program alternatives that tie current-year production to fixed price supports, which can distort planting decisions and production between commodities when market prices decline.
“NCGA strongly believes a farmer should be able to absorb a price or yield loss in any given year,” said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, a corn grower from Auburn, Ill. “However, we are trying to protect farmers, especially young farmers, when they are facing these types of losses multiple years in a row.”
In addition to crop insurance, the groups are calling for planting flexibility for farmers as well as a new program to complement the risk protection provided under crop insurance and the continuation of the marketing loan program, urging the Committee to oppose any changes in current law regarding payment limitations or eligibility for farm programs based on Adjusted Gross Income. “Currently, 98 percent of U.S. producers participate in the farm program and comply with their conservation requirements,” stated the groups in the letter. “It is important that farmers remain in the program so that our country can maintain conservation compliance on agricultural lands.”
Read the letter here.