The National Farmers Union has issued a white paper giving its overview of the 2012 Farm Bill. The organization says the next Farm Bill will likely face intense scrutiny by Congress as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction examines ways to achieve unprecedented levels of deficit reduction.
NFU says risk management must be made economical for all farmers, regardless of crop or geographic region, and that the next farm bill should use the funding from and combine parts of the SURE, Average Crop Revenue Election, countercyclical and direct payment programs. Mandatory disaster assistance should be improved so payments are reflective of actual market prices.
The white paper goes on to suggest that:
- Farm Bill programs should maintain the ability to effectively and efficiently help agriculture provide natural resource conservation and renewable energy benefits and working lands programs must be given priority when considering funding levels.
- NFU supports maintaining an energy title including the Rural Energy for America Program, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, and the Biorefinery Assistance Program.
- NFU does not support the elimination of the Milk Income Loss Contract Program and Dairy Product Price Support Program. NFU also believes the existing federal milk marketing order system should be maintained with the addition of a price discovery mechanism.
- NFU supports a livestock title that will allow for the full implementation of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rule. NFU says - we must address anticompetitive practices in livestock and the greater agricultural marketplace.
- NFU supports the expansion of opportunities and incentives for federal nutrition program recipients to access healthy, locally grown food. Safety nets such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program should be maintained.
- Mandatory investments should be made to strengthen and support the specialty crop industry. Adequate funding should provide support for beginning farmers and ranchers. And support for farmers during the organic certification process such as the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program.
- Also, NFU says robust funding should be made available for USDA research programs that are comparable to the budgets of other scientific resources to address critical environmental, nutritional and food security challenges.
According to the National Sorghum Producers, if the Super Committee demands extremely deep cuts that cripple existing programs, expect the Ag Committees to be ready with a full Farm Bill.
During its second DC fly-in of the year last week, the NSP delegation drove home that the freedom to farm concept and the counter-cyclical policies have served this nation and her farmers well. They say the direct production flexibility payments in particular have provided critical help to sorghum farmers, offering capital farmers could tailor to their unique needs.
Even with the pressure of budget cutting, NSP members want to see government: maintaining and even improving crop insurance; support diversity; building incentives for sorghum production into the farm bill’s conservation and energy titles; and the elimination of payment limits and means tests for producers.