Washington, April 9, 2013-Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., introduced legislation Tuesday that would eliminate direct payments to farmers and use the savings to pay for federal crop insurance.
“Overall, the legislation will strengthen the farm safety net while at the same time saving taxpayers billions of dollars and preventing costly ad hoc agriculture disaster programs,” Roberts said. “Time after time, we are told by producers that crop insurance is the single most important program that helps them when disasters strike.”
The legislation would reauthorize the federal crop insurance program and expand coverage options for producers through a Supplemental Coverage Option based on an area yield and loss basis. It would also amend the Federal Crop Insurance Act to make available separate enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated acreages of crops in counties. The legislation includes a provision to increase the county transitional yield to address a declining Actual Production History yield issue.
The legislation also continues the Stacked Income Protection Plan, known as STAX, for producers of upland cotton.
In order to help pay down the debt and reduce the deficit, Roberts said, the legislation is fully paid for by the elimination of direct payments, saving taxpayers $5 billion over ten years, according to a preliminary score by the Congressional Budget Office.
Roberts noted that similar legislative language was included in last year’s Senate-passed farm bill. He expects it to be included in the upcoming new farm bill, but offered it as a stand-alone bill in case a farm bill is not agreed upon.
“Basically that is because farmers are now planting their crop despite three years of drought and all sorts of hardship and all sorts of uncertainty about a farm bill that we’ve extended the 2008 act,” Roberts said. “That’s not what we wanted to do in the Senate, but that’s what happened. So we hope that that doesn’t happen again. And we hope that we can work again in a bipartisan way to produce a product.”
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