WASHINGTON, June 5, 2012 - The
American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to the Senate Monday outlining
the organization’s priorities and concerns regarding the Senate Agriculture
Committee’s proposed 2012 farm bill, S. 3240.
According to AFBF President Bob
Stallman, Farm Bureau places a priority on several of the committee’s
decisions, including using the $23 billion in savings suggested to the Joint
Committee on Deficit Reduction last fall; protecting and strengthening the
federal crop insurance program; developing a commodity title that attempts to
encourage producers to follow market signals rather than make planting
decisions in anticipation of government payments; and refraining from basing
any program on cost of production.
“While the legislation addresses
many Farm Bureau policy priorities, it is our sincere hope there will be
additional opportunities to make adjustments and refinements to improve this
legislation,” said Stallman.
Farm Bureau suggests additional
policy work in addressing the net effect of the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC)
Eligible Acres provisions.
AFBF would adjust the provisions
to ensure a “planted acres” approach and avoid recreating “base acres” issues “that
have raised equity and planting distortion concerns.”
The organization also suggests
re-instituting current payment limitations and the Adjusted Gross Income
provisions in current law.
“Fundamentally, Farm Bureau
continues to support a single program option for the commodity title that
extends to all crops,” wrote Stallman. “We believe the safety net should be
comprised of a strong crop insurance program, with continuation of the
marketing loan program and a catastrophic revenue loss program based on county
level losses for each crop.”
According to Farm Bureau, this
approach can be tailored to provide a safety net that meets regional and
commodity differences while also meeting the established savings target.
“Catastrophic loss events are
typically beyond any producer’s control and endanger the financial
survivability of the farm—the type of events that in the past have prompted
enactment of ad hoc disaster programs,” according to the AFBF release. “Having
a catastrophic loss program in place would protect farmers from these
situations and extend benefits only when needed, rather than potentially being
a supplemental source of annual income.”
Stallman said that after recently
analyzing numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, Farm Bureau now
believes it is possible to provide support at the 80 percent revenue level of
coverage for all program crops and five fruits and vegetables, instead of a
more limited group of crops at a lower revenue level, as AFBF originally proposed.
Congressman Steve King is an outspoken conservative member of the House Agriculture Committee. In this week's Open Mic, the Iowa Republican shares his observations about the farm bill that the committee wrote last week. King put through an egg amendment that may keep states from imposing standards that restrict commerce with other states. He also wants to cut the cost of SNAP and reduce other expenditures as well. King,
who is in line to be chairman when the next farm bill comes up in 2018, also discusses how committee membership has changed.