Several farm and commodity groups were represented at a House Ag Subcommittee hearing last week. The General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee met to review U.S. farm safety net programs in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill. It was the second hearing held by the subcommittee to review existing commodity programs and look ahead to the next farm bill.
Ranking Member Jerry Moran, R-Kan., says it was good to hear from farmers from across the nation. Noting Congress will have to find ways to do more with less available funding he says it's important to start these conversations with producers now so that the most fiscally responsible and effective safety net possible is developed.
Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson testified on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation saying while farmers are generally supportive of the safety net provided in the 2008 Farm Bill it sometimes feels like reading the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Nelson says some farmers think the coverage is just right, but others think it's too little or even too much. According to Nelson it all depends on the region the farmer is from.
The Farm Bureau has outlined five farm bill principles they believe Congress should follow when writing the 2012 Farm Bill: fiscally responsible options; no shifting of dollars from one title to another; proposals that benefit all ag sectors; consideration of world trade rulings; and consideration of the stable business environment needed for ag success. Nelson says any changes to the bill should focus on eliminating the gaps and redundancies in the safety net.
On behalf of the National Farmers Union Kent Peppler, president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, called for the next farm bill to address the new realities farmers and ranchers face. Peppler says the future farm programs must be a priority for the 2012 Farm Bill because though it might not solve all problems, it can take great strides toward strengthening rural America.
Peppler talked to the committee about direct and countercyclical payments, disaster programs, crop insurance, supply management tools and reserves - safety net programs NFU thinks should be considered in the next farm bill. Peppler says the nation's farm and food policy is of critical importance to all Americans and the public must know that if they eat - they are affected by the farm bill.