The Senate Agriculture Committee's scheduled hearing on risk management and commodities of the next farm bill has been postponed. Originally set for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, it has now been pushed back until Thursday, March 15 at 9 a.m. The change in the schedule is due to a large number of expected Senate floor votes on Wednesday.
The witnesses that will be testifying before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday include USDA's Acting Undersecretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, and several representatives of various commodity organizations.
On Tuesday, Stallman held a conference call to discuss the testimony he plans to present to the committee. The AFBF Board of Directors met last week to go over the details of that testimony.
"We have been working as has been known on a proposal called the Deep Loss Program, which in essence is a way of flipping the government's role in terms of a safety net for agriculture," Stallman said. "It's where the government takes from zero to 75% of the risk from producers based on area-wide losses that could occur. In other words it is a revenue risk management program using an Olympic five-year average across an area."
The area can be either a county or crop reporting district. Revenue from that would be used to offset any premium payment under an existing crop insurance policy. Stallman says it has applicability across all program crops and all fruits and vegetables, basically any crop for which there is a crop insurance policy.
"We are really working in a new environment and this proposal is somewhat revolutionary compared to the more evolutionary changes that normally occur in farm policy," Stallman said. "This program is basically one that we think will fit in a new environment we have with much fewer budget dollars and also a changing public sentiment about the role of government and within the farm safety net."
The hearing will be held in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building. A live webcast will be available at ag.senate.gov.