May 21, 2018

Disaster Aid- Farm Bill; USDA Reports; Climate Issues; Biofuels; and Food Safety

Disaster Aid- Farm Bill

John Lyon reported earlier this week at the Arkansas News Online that, “A recent spate of editorials in the national press knocking U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s efforts to secure $1.5 billion in disaster aid for farmers [Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal] shows how the East Coast media misunderstands the importance of agriculture, Lincoln said today.

“‘It’s certainly nothing new for the East Coast newspapers to be extremely critical of agricultural support, that’s for sure,’ Lincoln said in an interview with the Arkansas News Bureau. ‘I think it’s just another example of how those folks truly, I don’t think, understand production agriculture and how important it is to our economy and how important is to feeding the world.’

“Lincoln, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, won a fight in July to include $1.5 billion in agricultural disaster aid in a bill to aid small businesses, but Republican senators voted to block the bill. The Obama administration, which supported the small-business bill, promised to provide the disaster aid administratively in exchange for Lincoln agreeing to drop the provision from the bill.”

Mr. Lyon explained that, “Critics say the aid package is an end run around the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments, or SURE, program, which was included in the 2008 Farm Bill. The program sought to reform farm subsidies by offering formula-based payments to farmers who signed up for federally subsidized crop insurance.

“‘We’ve not had a single farmer sign up for this program in Arkansas because it’s not effective for the crops that we grow and how we grow them,’ Lincoln said. ‘It’s very similar in other Southern states.’”

“Another complaint is that most of the money will go to the wealthiest farmers. Lincoln said the payments follow production,” the article noted.