After more than two decades of farmers relying on government direct payments, the change to crop insurance-based programs in the new farm bill will present “a real challenge” for Mississippi farmers and agricultural lenders, says Randy Knight, president of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.

“Following three years of work, the farm bill was passed by the Senate today and is now on its way to President Obama for his signature,” he said at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association at Mississippi State University.

“Both of Mississippi’s senators voted in favor of the bill and, speaking for the farmers of our state, I want to thank Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker for helping get this important legislation passed.

   See: Senate passes new farm bill

 “The safety net that this bill provides will help our farmers to invest confidently in their farming operations in the future. That in turn will help to stimulate the economies of the communities in which they live.”

The bill provides additional risk management tools for grain, livestock, and fruit and vegetable farmers, Knight says, while still saving taxpayers about $23 billion over 10 years.

“Farmers need to have some stability in the high-risk business of agriculture. This legislation helps our farmers put together a five-year plan to manage their risk.”

Although Farm Bureau is “very happy to finally have a new law,” he says, “we are a little overwhelmed with the many changes in this bill compared to the old law — the most significant being the repeal of the direct payment program that southern producers have relied upon due to higher production costs of their commodities, such as cotton and rice.”