SCOTTSDALE, Feb. 10 – With farm bill hearings starting next week in Washington, D.C., Senate Agriculture Committee leaders called for quick action on writing a new farm bill during the 48th annual meeting of the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau (CIRB).
Ranking minority member Pat Roberts, R-KS, who spoke via a telephone connection, called for the package to be finished by Memorial Day, even though he admitted that his staff thinks he’s being overly optimistic.
“It may be mission impossible,” Roberts added, but said writing a new farm bill early this year is certainly worth a try.
Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, who presented a video address to the group, outlined the farm bill hearings that will kick off next week and the tough budgetary challenges ahead—especially for House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., given the over $33 billion in farm bill cuts outlined in the House Budget Committee proposal last year.
Both Stabenow and Roberts offered strong support for keeping crop insurance as the centerpiece of the farm safety net.
“We have heard loud and clear that crop insurance is one of the most critical risk management tools, embraced by farmers and producers in all parts of the country. We will continue working to strengthen crop insurance to make it available to more producers and to make sure farmers have the tools they need to effectively manage their risk,” Stabenow said.
Roberts described renewed efforts by some Farm Service Agency employees to stop the current public/private crop insurance delivery system and once again have FSA offices deliver crop insurance as “looney” and “dead on arrival.”
“This program has traveled leaps and bounds from where it first started, and it has now become the most important risk management tool in most producers’ toolboxes. Like CIRB, my goal is to maintain a robust risk management program that is delivered by the private sector, which is critical for providing jobs in rural America and excellent service to producers,” emphasized Roberts.
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