WASHINGTON, March 12, 2013 – The American Soybean Association (ASA) unveiled Monday a revised policy position on the farm bill that includes support for updating and extending the Agriculture Department’s current Counter-Cyclical Program (CCP) while withdrawing support for the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program.
ASA President Danny Murphy said the revision was an effort to resolve longstanding differences between commodities and to address higher projected costs.
Murphy said ASA will continue to support the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) included in both the House and Senate versions of last year’s farm bills as a complement to federal crop insurance. ASA said it will also support offering a choice between “higher options” for CCP and SCO, recognizing that producers in different growing regions have varying priorities for protecting farm income.
“ASA strongly supported the [ARC program] in the Senate bill last year as an effective risk management tool designed to work with crop insurance,” Murphy said. “However, because of ARC’s higher cost and the need to find additional savings in the farm bill, we have decided to support updating and extending the CCP program included in current law.”
ASA noted that the Congressional Budget Office found both the Senate and House bills to be more expensive than it estimated last year.
“We have constraints more serious than last year,” said Ray Gaesser, ASA first vice president, during a press conference today. “We may to have to reduce or even eliminate direct payments.”
Gaesser said their update policy position will help to resolve many issues that have existed in the farm bill’s commodity title.
Overall, Murphy said, the “the decoupled CCP allows producers to respond to market signals rather than government programs in making their planting decisions, which has been a key priority for ASA during the farm bill debate. It also provides a safety net against several years of low prices, which has been important to supporters of the House bill.”
Murphy added that “the SCO will provide revenue protection at the county level and is more defensible because, like crop insurance, it requires farmers to pay part of the cost of the premium.”
ASA said it would support setting target prices under the CCP at levels that reflect an average of recent market prices. The association said that its support for a price-based program is contingent on decoupling program payments from current year production to avoid planting distortions.
“Agriculture faces a major challenge in getting the various stakeholders to find common ground and finish a comprehensive, long-term farm bill,” Murphy said. “This policy adjustment demonstrates that ASA is committed to working with other commodities as well as both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to support a safety net that can work for all farmers.”
In addition to modifying its position on risk management policy, ASA said it will continue to support extending the Marketing Loan Program, eliminating the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program, and reducing or eliminating direct payments – all provisions which were included in last year’s Senate and House farm bills.
Of advocating the elimination of ACRE, Murphy said the program had an “extremely low participation rate and a high cost.”
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