Senators offer bill to make ‘Farm Flex' pilot permanent

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2013 - Two senators introduced today legislation that would permanently implement a pilot program nationwide that allows farmers to voluntarily forgo federal subsidies and opt out of restrictions on fruit and vegetable production in order to produce specialty crops.

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Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., introduced the Farming Flexibility Act (Farm Flex).

Until the 2008 farm bill, the planting of fruits, vegetables and wild rice on program crop base acres was prohibited. The Farm Flex pilot program, which is set to expire on Sept. 30, currently provides farmers in seven states the ability to waive federal subsidies and the restrictions tied to those subsidies in order to produce specialty crops like fruits and vegetables.

“This bill is a win for Hoosier farmers and American taxpayers,” Coats said. “Our legislation would provide farmers the flexibility they need to respond to market signals when making planting decisions, rather than be restricted by federal rules to grow a particular crop.”

Coats said the Farm Flex plan is “a successful, tested, market-based program that has proven to save taxpayer dollars.”

He said by making the program permanent and expanding it nationwide, crop producers and farmers would have more control over their businesses with less government interference.

Donnelly said he will push to get the legislation included in the upcoming farm bill.

The program, he said, has “successfully incentivized the local production of fruits and vegetables and saved taxpayer dollars due to producers forgoing federal subsidies.”


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