Early response to the Senate farm bill has been mostly positive as farm organizations weigh in on the bipartisan proposal passed out of the commends Senate Agriculture Committee today.
“The newly passed Senate bill is similar to what they passed last year, except this version provides the option for both price loss protection and revenue for all crops except cotton, which is important to many of the other Southern crops,” Says Steve Verett, executive vice president, Plains Cotton Growers, Inc., Lubbock. “For cotton, it's the same provisions as last year –the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) without a reference price.
“The House Ag Committee mark, as last year, provides price loss protection as well as revenue as a choice for all crops except cotton, and with higher levels of price loss protection than the Senate bill,” he adds. “The House STAX provision, like the Senate bill, does not include a reference price. However, an additional feature on the House STAX provision is two years of a totally decoupled transition payment while STAX is being implemented, a feature that we strongly support. This will ensure that our cotton producers are protected while those who will administer the STAX program make their final preparations for this new risk management strategy.”
Verett says farmers need the assurance that a five-year farm bill provides. “Crafting a five-year farm bill that meets the needs of all of our agricultural producers nationwide certainly is not an easy task, and we commend both the Senate Ag Committee and the House Ag Committee for the tremendous amount of time and effort they have spent in developing a farm bill that is fiscally responsible, equitable, and effective. We look forward to continuing this momentum and urge Congress to act quickly and get this vital piece of legislation passed.”
The National Cotton Council (NCC) also expressed appreciation for the work of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee “for producing a farm bill that includes provisions supported by the cotton industry.
NCC says in addition to including significant policy reforms and cotton provisions that should resolve the longstanding Brazil World Trade Organization case, the legislation will contribute more than $18 billion to deficit reduction over the next 10 years, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office. Counting the additional agriculture-related savings resulting from the March 1 sequester order, the total savings would be $24.4 billion over 10 years.
NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson, a South Texas cotton producer, said, “The Committee’s efforts on this farm bill are an important step toward providing producers with critically important predictability and tools to manage risk. Producers and their lenders need sound, long-term farm programs to sustain investments and to make market oriented planting and marketing decisions. The NCC is especially pleased that the Senate Committee did not have to consider several amendments that would have seriously damaged the cotton program. Instead, they chose to include provisions to provide cotton farmers long term certainty and vital economic assistance to the U.S. textile industry. We now urge prompt consideration by the full Senate.”
Dodson said the industry will call on Cotton Belt Senators to support the Committee’s work and oppose damaging amendments when the legislation is considered by the full Senate.
Steve Pringle, Legislative Director, Texas Farm Bureau, expresses optimism that farmers will get new a farm program by Sept. 30. "We are pleased at the progress being made in both houses of the Congress. We are extremely anxious to get a farm bill done by Sept 30,” Pringle says.
“We are pleased to have a bill reported from the Senate committee and look forward to its consideration by the (full) Senate in the near future. We anticipate favorable consideration by the House Agriculture Committee tomorrow."
Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, also praised the Senate Ag Committee’s efforts.
“The Senate Agriculture Committee today put the farm bill on a solid road toward success. By following a bipartisan path and approving its farm bill legislation, the committee moved the farm bill forward with provisions that work well for America’s farm and ranch families. We are especially pleased that this bill places a high priority on crop insurance as a risk management tool and that it also offers a measure of flexibility through safety net options beyond crop insurance.
“While the bill contains many provisions compatible with the core farm bill proposal offered by Farm Bureau, we recognize that no farm bill is perfect and there is always room for improvement. We are pleased that the Senate held firm to its intention of limiting cuts to $23 billion. That will help maintain workable and viable commodity and conservation titles by limiting program cuts to levels that are fair for farmers and ranchers.
“We also believe that the bipartisan compromise to oppose means testing, payment limitations or premium subsidy reductions for the crop insurance program and to formalize a tie between crop insurance and conservation compliance helped set the tone of cooperation for this bill moving forward. Overall, this bill meets our firm position that the farm bill be bipartisan in nature, reform-minded in structure and crafted around a broad, flexible, crop insurance-based program that provides our farmers certainty and extends much-needed risk management tools across more acres and more crops.”
National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson released the following statement in response to the Senate Agriculture Committee’s farm bill passage: “We greatly appreciate the work by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and the Committee to put forth a well-crafted farm bill. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to see the Committee listened to the concerns of our nation’s corn farmers and have done a great job keeping our priorities, especially the importance of crop insurance and risk management, under consideration while drafting the legislation.
“While we understand this is the first step in a very long process, we applaud the Senate Ag Committee for completing their bill and are encouraged that the House Agriculture Committee will swiftly follow suit. We look forward to continued work with members and staff on this important piece of legislation and urge Congress to pass a farm bill as soon as possible this year.”
National Sorghum Producers’ J.B. Stewart, Legislative Committee said, “NSP thanks Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, Ranking Member Thad Cochran and the rest of the Senate Ag Committee for their hard work and leadership to once again pass a farm bill,” said. “We hope this momentum carries through the Senate floor and we are able to enact a farm bill before current legislation expires at the end of this year.”
American Soybean Association (ASA) President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., called on the full Senate to pass the bill, and expressed ASA’s appreciation for the cooperative and bipartisan effort displayed by the Committee in crafting a bill that provides farmers with the certainty they need to continue producing enough food, feed, fiber, and biofuels to meet growing domestic and global demand.
“The Committee’s farm bill provides continued planting flexibility, reinforces crop insurance, protects our natural resources, authorizes and funds vital trade, research and education programs, and feeds our nation’s hungry, all while addressing our nation’s budget needs by reducing spending by $23 billion, including elimination of direct payments and duplication of conservation programs.”
The Senate bill reauthorizes and funds numerous ASA priorities, including the Biodiesel Education Program, the Biobased Market Program, agricultural research initiatives, and the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs. It also includes provisions that strengthen the crop insurance program, a top priority for ASA.
National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jerry Kozak also praised the Senate’s efforts.
“We commend the members of the Senate Agriculture Committee for approving a farm bill today to transform dairy policy, while making necessary improvements in other farm and nutrition programs,” Kozak said. “The dairy title of the committee’s bill contains the long-awaited reforms offered by the Dairy Security Act, which provides the best combination of effective risk management for dairy farmers, while minimizing program costs to the taxpayer.”
“We also urge members of the House Agriculture Committee, during their markup of the farm bill tomorrow, to approve the Dairy Security Act and oppose an effort by Rep. Bob Goodlatte that aims to weaken the bill’s protection of dairy farmers.”
“The Senate farm bill includes an historic agreement between agriculture and conservation organizations to ensure that basic soil and wetland protection requirements were extended to apply to crop insurance premium subsidies,” said Julie Sibbing, director of Agriculture and Forestry Programs, National Wildlife Federation.
“The Senate Agriculture Committee passed a farm bill today which seeks to minimize the effects of cuts to conservation and energy programs, and includes important protections for soil, water, wildlife and declining grassland ecosystems,” Sibbing said. “We look forward to working with them to pass a final farm bill this year that includes these important protections.”
“We also thank Chairwoman Stabenow for standing up against number of amendments that would have weakened the current requirements to protect soil and wetlands as a condition of receiving subsidies.”