Implementation of the new farm bill’s crop insurance provisions was front and center during a recent hearing of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.

One of the chief concerns of lawmakers was the right of farmers to quickly utilize an Actual Production History (APH) adjustment. APH is a tally of a farm’s crop yields over many years. The adjustment in the farm bill aims to help disaster-hit farmers by allowing them to exclude a crop year from their APH history if a yield is less than 50 percent of the 10-year county average.

The APH adjustment “is meant to be self-executing,” said Texas Rep. Mike Conaway, chairman of the subcommittee. “Farmers were not meant to have to ask permission to exclude qualifying yields.”

Georgia Rep. David Scott, ranking member, backed up Conaway’s worries and, pointing to major crop losses in the Southeast due to freeze damage, said there is “great concern” regarding the Risk Management Agency (RMA) imposing a “downward trending adjustment on APH in Georgia and South Carolina while waiving the requirement in all other states. That’s not right.”

The APH was also part of Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas’ talking points. “For anyone who’s facing the prospect of drought, or has suffered prolonged drought, this provision is designed to provide immediate relief.”

Following a series of poor crops due to drought in Lucas’ home state, “the APH adjustment would provide widespread relief for wheat producers planting and insuring their crops this fall. Congress was clear: all producers affected by drought should be able to exclude those years. They should be able to do so immediately.”

With so much riding on the APH adjustment, the lawmakers were surely disappointed with testimony of Michael Scuse, USDA Under Secretary. Scuse said the adjustment in APH “will be available for crops planted in the fall of 2015. This was one of the few crop insurance provisions that did not exist in either the House or Senate version of the farm bill prior to conference. While (the RMA) understands how important this provision is to many farmers who have suffered from natural disasters, it is not possible to implement this provision for the 2015 crop year.”