The American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors has released its farm bill proposal. Director of Public Policy Mary Kay Thatcher says the base of their policy relies on multiple programs to build an adequate safety net. While they are proposing to eliminate the SURE disaster program, they still want to keep direct payments in place as a cushion for a possible drop in commodity prices over the 5-year life of the Farm Bill.
"We'd certainly like to simplify the ACRE program, we'd like to continue some kind of direct payment program, and we're unanimous about the idea of crop insurance," Thatcher said. "I wouldn't tell you that every one of my states thinks it works really, really well in their states, but I think everybody's out for let's make it better if it doesn't work instead of moving away from that. So, we just want to make sure that we're not trending toward one program fits everyone across the country because we just don't think we have that answer."
She says while the final cuts from the Super Committee are still unknown Farm Bureau wants them to be shared among all commodities and across all titles of the Farm Bill, even nutrition.
"We think that no matter how much gets cut that it ought to be 30% of the number," Thatcher said. "Say we cut $20 billion; 30% should come from commodity programs, 30% from conservation, 30% from nutrition and 10% from crop insurance. I think there is money to be found and we believe when you are looking at $700 billion in outlays for the food stamp program over the next 10 years that we can easily find a few billion dollars in money there, via administrative costs, via fraud and abuse, that we're not taking food away from hungry people."
Thatcher says Farm Bureau's plan also calls for combining the 23 different conservation programs into three to five that are effective and affordable.