January 20, 2020

Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; and Biofuels

Farm Bill Issues

The Washington Insider section of DTN reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Witnesses at last week’s Senate Agriculture Committee field hearing [unofficial transcript] repeatedly stressed the need to retain and strengthen crop insurance provisions in federal law when Congress drafts the next farm bill. During the field hearing in Wichita, Kan., state farmers and agricultural leaders said crop insurance had been vital to the continuing operation of many farms, citing this year’s devastating drought as evidence of the need for adequate risk management tools.

Other witnesses urged the panel to continue direct payments to selected landowners in spite of the difficulty in justifying those payments when farmers have both good crops and good prices. Direct payments are made to eligible landowners regardless of the crops grown on the land, the price those crops fetch in the market or even if the land is left idle. The annual cost of the program is approximately $5 billion.”

The update noted that, “Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., told the audience that the panel has a pressing deadline to meet, the Oct. 14 date by which it is to provide recommendations for farm program budget cuts to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka, the super committee). In her prepared remarks, Stabenow noted that the Agriculture committee ‘must make some tough decisions, or someone else will do it for us.’

“Stabenow’s anticipated approach to drafting the 2012 farm bill now appears to be in line with that of her House counterpart, Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla. The question is whether the super committee will accept the recommendations of the two Agriculture chairmen or go in a separate direction.”