September 16, 2019

Farm Bill and Policy Issues; Regulations; and Trade

Categories: Audio /Farm Bill /Trade

Farm Bill and Policy Issues

An update posted yesterday at the Oklahoma Farm Report Online stated that, “One of the biggest challenges facing Oklahoma Representative Frank Lucas as he works to forge a farm bill is how to get all the disparate groups to pull in the same direction. In an interview with Ron Hays, the House Committee on Agriculture Chairman said the obstacles facing his committee as they work on farm legislation are enormous.

“Lucas said he and Senate Agriculture Food and Forestry Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow had agreed in December to write legislation anticipating $23 billion in cuts. Since then, the President’s budget shows a $32 billion reduction in spending for farm programs. That budget, declared dead on arrival by both the House and Senate is off the table. Lucas said one proposal for a new budget being floated in the House by Paul Ryan entails $40 billion dollars in cuts.”

(FarmPolicy Note:  Recall that the House GOP budget framework from last year contained a total of $178 billion in cuts to agricultural programs over 10 years, a target that was significantly greater than any other of the other comprehensive budget proposals that contained reductions in Farm Bill spending ($10 billion- President’s Fiscal Commission, $11 billion- Gang of Six, $23 billion- House and Senate Ag Committees, $30 billion- Domenici-Rivlin Proposal, and $32 billion- President’s Deficit Reduction Plan).  If the House proposal for this year contains a similar level of cuts ($178 billion), which is possible, it could add to the difficulty of reconciling a Senate Farm Bill with a House passed measure).

Yesterday’s Oklahoma Farm Report update noted that, “Lucas said he thinks the action taken by the Senate Ag Committee to accelerate its hearings on the conservation title of the farm bill is a positive step, but given the way Washington works, it may mean little. Questions about the possibility of having a farm bill before Easter, may be optimistic, Lucas said, but Senate Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow ‘wants to move quicker rather than later and she told me early on if she had everything together in her chamber, she would move heaven and earth to get it done. I think there is an indication by moving up those hearing dates that perhaps the pieces are coming together. But that is only speculation on my part.’

“Some of the dissension on how to proceed with a comprehensive farm bill, Lucas said, is differences in approach on how the bill should work. There are those who advocate for a ‘shallow loss’ approach and those who prefer crop insurance as the major policy initiative. With money difficulties on the horizon, Lucas said a bill that provides for both may be difficult to achieve.

“‘That’s the real question, will we have enough money to do both. If you’re going to have cuts that are 30 billion or 40 billion dollars or more, it makes it really, really difficult to do both and you can’t just halfway do one or the other. You’ve got to have both elements if you’re going to have a real safety net as some seem to think by stepping off direct payments.’

“‘I have regions that are more focused on the revenue side of the equation. I have regions that are more focused on the crop side of the equation.’”

To listen to the complete interview yesterday with Ron Hays and Chairman Lucas, just click here.


Farm Bill and Policy Issues; Ag Economy; and Regulations

Farm Bill and Policy Issues

Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported yesterday that, “U.S. farmers collected a record $10 billion in crop insurance indemnities for their 2011 crops, said a trade group on Monday, calling insurance a sound safety net as Congress prepares to overhaul crop subsidies.

“Five percent of claims on 2011 crops are outstanding, so the pay-out is likely to climb above the current $10.08 billion, said National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS). The payment record was $8.67 billion in 2008.

“‘The ability of U.S. agriculture to sustain more than $10 billion in insured losses and seamlessly finance itself for the 2012 crop season should not be taken for granted,’ said NCIS president Tom Zacharias.”