Obama Administration calls for more crop insurance and commodity cuts

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, May 20, 2013 - The Obama Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) today which broadly supports key reforms made in the new farm bill being debated on the United States Senate floor, while calling for unspecified additional cuts in crop insurance and commodity program savings.

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At the same time the White House is calling for no reduction in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The announcement comes just as the farmers and ranchers prepare for an onslaught of attacks on crop insurance - long viewed as the central part of the farm safety net - during Senate farm bill debate. Sen. John McCain offered the first of several crop insurance-related amendments today, offering to cut crop insurance premium subsidies for tobacco growers.

The SAP notes that the Administration supports passage of S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, and that it is “critical that Congress pass legislation that provides certainty for rural American and includes needed reforms and savings.”

“The new farm bill should promote rural development, preserve a strong safety net, maintain strong nutrition programs, encourage the development of local and regional markets, enhance conservation, honor our international trade commitments, including under the World Trade Organization and advance agricultural research,” the document notes. “In light of our Nation's long-term fiscal challenge, the legislation should also contribute to deficit reduction.”

The SAP notes that there are “notable reforms” in the bill, including elimination of direct payments and tightening payment and eligibility requirements and consolidating conservation programs. 

“But consistent with the President's budget, the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to achieve crop insurance and commodity program savings that are not contained in S.954, while at the same time strengthening the farm safety net in times of need and supporting the next generation of farmers.”

The Obama budget for 2014 called for $37.8 billion in cuts over 10 years to farm subsidies, crop insurance and conservation programs - in part by decreasing the subsidies paid to farmers to cover their crop insurance premiums by 3 percent and further cutting the amount USDA pays to private crop insurance companies to administer and deliver the Federal Crop Insurance Program. 

At the same time, the budget proposed continuing current programs that most farm organizations have asked to repeal such as the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program and the standing disaster program known as SURE.

 

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