The following is a July 9 letter from Randy Veach, President of Arkansas Farm Bureau, to House Agriculture Committee leadership.

“For the past two years the House Agriculture Committee has been in the process of drafting a new farm bill. No other single piece of legislation is as important to the viability of agriculture in the United States as the farm bill. Arkansas Farm Bureau appreciates your leadership and bipartisan efforts in developing the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM). Agriculture is Arkansas’ largest industry and has an impact of more than $16 billion on our state’s economy. Farm policy that provides adequate protection for all of our farmers and ranchers is our top priority.

“You, your committee and staff are to be applauded for working so diligently. The House’s proposal offers a choice between Price Loss Coverage and Revenue Loss Coverage that will enable farmers to determine what best fits their particular situation. FARRM’s focus is on addressing serious and sustained losses, which is the intended purpose of a farm bill. This bill acknowledges the diversity of agriculture and recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach is not workable for all farmers and ranchers.

“We feel the options laid out in the FARRM bill will provide planting and production flexibility. The House bill’s Price Loss Coverage and Revenue Loss Coverage provides a better system of support for southern agriculture than the Senate proposal and allows producers to plant for the market. However, we are obviously disappointed in the loss of direct payments as a risk management tool.

“The inclusion of the Dairy Security Act will keep dairy farmers and industry workers in business while streamlining support programs, keeping milk affordable for consumers and saving money. The ups and downs in milk prices and increasing feed prices leave volatility for our dairy farmers. It is critical that this portion of the bill remain intact to provide dairy farmers more stability.

“We are pleased to see the livestock disaster programs receive an extension in the FARRM discussion draft. Arkansas farmers have had a tough couple of years of drought and good natural disaster programs could mean that these farms will survive to see better days. “Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance, Livestock Indemnity Payments (LIP), Livestock Forage Disaster Programs (LFP) and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP) are good programs that give support to farmers when needed most. Those kinds of basic support programs must be included to give cattlemen and other livestock producers a safety net during the worst natural disasters.

“For these reasons and more, we support the 2012 Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act and urge the House Committee on Agriculture to adopt the legislation in full. I want to commend the committee for working to create a balanced and bipartisan bill. The FARRM discussion draft, released by the committee, includes many commendable support mechanisms for farmers and ranchers. It takes finesse and old-fashioned hard work to build policy that provides a legitimate safety net.

"The farmers of Arkansas thank you for your efforts.”