Speaking before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management on May 16, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Bob Stallman reemphasized AFBF support of a single commodity option and a strong crop insurance program in the 2012 farm bill. Stallman said he was confident AFBF’s approach could easily provide a safety net that meets regional and commodity differences, while also staying within the budget.
“Continuation of a multi-legged stool remains the best approach for providing a fair and effective safety net, which should consist of a strong crop insurance program, continuation of the current marketing loan provisions and a catastrophic revenue loss program,” said Stallman. The purpose of the hearing was to review commodity programs and crop insurance options for 2012 farm bill.
Stallman’s testimony was based on the premise that the House Agriculture Committee will draft farm legislation that reduces spending by $23 billion over the next 10 years, with proportional cuts of $15 billion in commodity program reductions, $4 billion in conservation program reductions and $4 billion in nutrition program reductions.
In its farm bill proposal, AFBF has prioritized (1) protecting and strengthening federal crop insurance funding and not reducing funding for that program; (2) developing a commodity title that encourages producers to follow market signals rather than making planting decisions in anticipation of government payments; and (3) refraining from basing any program on cost of production.
“As a general farm organization, we place high priority on ensuring the bill benefits all American agricultural commodity sectors in a balanced, coordinated manner,” said Stallman. “Conceptually, our proposal can cover all specialty crops that have crop insurance available, but we thought it best to walk before we run.”
AFBF’s proposal covers apples, tomatoes, grapes, potatoes and sweet corn.
“The new farm bill must ensure that producers continue to take production signals from the marketplace rather than enticing them to chase federal program benefits,” continued Stallman. “Approaches that allow producers to pick and choose between various program options would impose severe challenges and drive production decisions.”
Stallman also said that AFBF continues to oppose payment limits and means testing of farm program benefits in general.