The American Farm Bureau Federation Monday announced it is sending a farm bill proposal to Capitol Hill that would save $23 billion compared to the cost of continuing the current program.
Approved this weekend by the AFBF Board of Directors, the proposal offers a mix of risk management and safety net tools to benefit a wide range of farms.
AFBF President Bob Stallman said the proposal: offers farmers a choice of program options; protects the federal crop insurance program and does not reduce its funding; provides a commodity title that encourages farmers to follow market signals rather than making planting decisions in anticipation of government payments; ensures equity across program commodities and refrains from basing any program on cost of production.
Last year, Congress voted to extend the 2008 Farm Bill until Sept. 30, 2013, rather than passing a draft bill that was approved by the Senate, but never taken up in the House.
"There is far less money this year than last with which to secure an adequate safety net for the many family-owned farms that make up the bulk of America's agricultural system," Stallman said. "Now, while unfortunately we have less money to work with, it is vital that Congress complete a new five-year farm bill this year."
Stallman said the goal of the AFBF proposal is to provide a measure of fairness among regions and crops, while providing each commodity sector a workable safety net provision for farmers who grow that crop.
"Farm policy should provide a strong and effective safety net and viable risk management programs for farmers that do not guarantee a profit but, instead, protect them from catastrophic occurrences," Stallman said. "We also want to ensure that terms of our farm programs do not affect a farmer's decision of which crop to plant. The program must comply with our World Trade Organization agreements."
Farm Bureau supports a program that allows producers flexibility to plant in response to market demand. AFBF also advocates a safety net that allows farmers to purchase individual risk insurance plans, delivered by private crop insurance companies.