Crop groups will try to reach (common ground) on Farm Bill at Commodity Classic

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



NASHVILLE, March 1, 2012- While crop insurance is the top Farm Bill priority for commodity groups at the 2012 Commodity Classic in Nashville, each has its own ideas on how to provide supporting risk management programs.

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Garry Niemeyer said a program like the Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management (ARRM) Program would cover “gaps” left in crop insurance programs in the event of multiple years of decreasing prices or yields. With market volatility increasing, this type of event “could be just around the corner,” he said.

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American Soybean Association (ASA) President Steve Wellman reiterated his organization's support for a commodity-specific revenue-based program.He said this approach will have less of an impact on planting decisions and production than a fixed target price program, “since any payments would be based on actual revenue losses rather than a decline in prices from fixed support levels.”

However, he said his group would be open to an alternative to a revenue-based program, because “ASA recognizes a revenue based program may not be appropriate for all commodities.”

Niemeyer said the heads of commodity groups will gather at the Commodity Classic today to “work to a common ground” on a voice for Farm Bill legislation. Title I of the Farm Bill, the Commodity Title, is considered the most difficult on which to reach consensus because each crop has its own risk management needs. 

“There are some different opinions on the best approach,” Wellman said. However, “it's part of the process” in the attempt to draft legislation that would best support U.S. farmers. 

“We all want to see a Farm Bill in 2012,” Niemeyer said. “That is one thing we have in common.”

Niemeyer also opposed the $8 billion cut to crop insurance proposed by President Obama in his FY 2013 budget.  Both NCGA and ASA resist any additional cuts to the crop insurance program, which they say is the most important tool for farmers today, especially with the inevitable elimination of direct payments and the counter-cyclical payment program. 

Any cut in support for the federal crop insurance program is a potentially crushing one for our industry,” Wellman said today. 

On the alternative fuels front, each of the soybean and corn representatives said his organization is working to maintain government support. NCGA is steadfast in its support of maintaining the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

“We are going to defend the RFS at all costs,” Niemeyer said.

ASA Chairman Alan Kemper said RFS facilitated the record 1.1 billion gallons of biodiesel. The biodiesel tax credit, which lapsed at the end of 2011, also aided the industry's success. 

“It is imperative that we maintain our pressure on Capitol Hill to see the credit extended,” Kemper said. “Its retroactive extension is a top priority for ASA.”

 

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