WASHINGTON, June 14, 2012- Senators Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., teamed up to amend the 2012 Farm Bill today with a plan to “improve” the counter-cyclical program, effectively bringing back the program that was eliminated in the current version of the Senate’s 2012 Farm Bill and extending it through 2017. They were joined by Senators Max Baucus, D-Mont., and John Hoeven, R-N.D.

“This is still a work in progress as we seek a responsible bi-partisan, multi-regional approach to providing an adequate safety net for farmers and the fact that the senators from the upper plains are involved is a clear indication that other regions aren’t enamored with ARC (Agricultural Risk Coverage),” Chambliss said. 

“This is one step in a process to achieve a bi-partisan, multi-regional agreement on Title I provisions,” said Christopher Gaddie, Senator Conrad's Director of Communications. “We do know that this program will be fully paid for. We have identified a couple of the offsets in the amendment and are still considering other offsets as well.”

Whether or not this amendment is the “silver bullet” that Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., can embrace, while winning the votes of southern senators who have expressed concerns over the treatment of rice and peanuts in the commodity title, remains to be seen.

Some sources told Agri-Pulse that the details at this point may not be as important as the strategy of getting a target price “placeholder” in the Senate version of the bill so that southern senators will have a much stronger hand in conference. 

The House Agriculture Committee is expected to produce a bill that offers much higher target prices.

But a big part of the challenge will be coming up with the “pay-fors” to maintain the $23.6 billion in savings over ten years that are currently claimed by the bill’s co-sponsors.

One of the offsets that could be considered to pay for the target price proposal is removal of a provision in the current bill that fixes the T-Yield in crop insurance calculations.

Their amendment, S. 2425, would set slightly higher target prices for the following commodities at these rates: wheat, $4.46 per bushel; corn, $2.81 per bushel; grain sorghum, $2.81 per bushel; feed barley, $2.81 per bushel; malt-type barley, $3.57 per bushel; oats, $1.92 per bushel; long grain rice, $11 per hundredweight; medium grain rice, $11 per hundredweight; soybeans, $6.30 per bushel; other oilseeds, $13.81 per hundredweight; dry peas, $8.82 per hundredweight; lentils, $13.31 per hundredweight; small chickpeas, $10.86 per hundredweight; and large chickpeas, $13.31 per hundredweight. Upland cotton, which won its own safety net, called STAX, in the 2012 farm bill, is excluded.

In addition, it would establish a program for peanuts at $25.25 per hundredweight. 

Payment acres would be defined as 75 percent of the acres planted or prevented from being planted, not to exceed 75 percent of the total base acres. 

Payment limits under the counter-cyclical program would be limited to $65,000. 

Another amendment, from Conrad and Baucus, would limit the speed at which the price portion of the revenue calculation in the Senate bill’s Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) program could decline.


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