Farm Bureau Sends Farm Bill Proposal to Congress

The American Farm Bureau Federation has sent a farm bill proposal to Capitol Hill. The proposal - approved by the Farm Bureau Board of Directors over the weekend - offers a diverse mix of risk management and safety net tools to benefit a wide range of farms. Farm Bureau's farm bill proposal offers farmers a choice of program options, protects and strengthens the federal crop insurance program and doesn't reduce its funding, provides a commodity title that works to encourage farmers to follow market signals rather than making planting decisions in anticipation of government payments, refrains from basing any program on cost of production and ensures equity across program commodities. According to Farm Bureau - it also saves 23-billion dollars compared to the cost of continuing the current program. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the goal of the 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.

Stallman says farm policy should provide a strong and effective safety net and viable risk management programs for farmers that don't guarantee a profit - but protect against catastrophic occurrences. He says Farm Bureau wants to ensure the terms of U.S. farm programs don't affect a farmer's decision of which crop to plant. In addition - Stallman says the program must comply with our World Trade Organization agreements.

Farm Bureau supports a program that reduces complexity while allowing producers increased flexibility to plant in response to market demand; a safety net that allows farmers to purchase insurance products to further protect individual risk; and giving producers a choice of program options. The Farm Bureau proposal calls for a three-legged safety net for program crop farmers that includes a stacked income protection plan commonly called STAX, an improved crop insurance program and target prices and marketing loans. All program crop farmers would have access to the marketing loan and crop insurance provisions. They would then select between a target price program and STAX to round out their safety net option. Due to funding limits - Farm Bureau is proposing to modify STAX for all eligible commodities in a variety of ways - including reducing the crop insurance premium subsidization to 70-percent, allowing STAX to be based on yield or revenue at the discretion of the producer and making no payments until the county average revenue or yield fell by 10-percent from the historic amount.

Stallman notes there is far less money this year than last year with which to secure an adequate safety net for the many family-owned farms that make up the bulk of America's agricultural system. But he says it's vital for Congress to complete a new five-year farm bill this year. Doing so - Stallman says - is in the economic interest of the entire nation.

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