The American Soybean Association (ASA) applauds Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson and the members of the House ag committee for passing the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act Wednesday, May 15.
The bill, which passed the Committee on a 36 to 10 vote, will now head to the House floor for consideration. ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., commended the Committee and called on the full House to pass the bill as quickly as possible.
“ASA is very pleased that the farm bill is moving forward, and we applaud Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson, as well as the entire Committee, for their work on the bill,” said Murphy.
“The House bill contains several key ASA priorities including provisions to strengthen crop insurance and continue our overseas marketing programs. We remain concerned with the bill’s inclusion of a price-based program under which payments are tied to current plantings, and the potential planting distortions this program could cause if market prices fall. That said, we believe these differences can be ironed out, either on the House floor or in conference with the Senate.”
Murphy noted that ASA was particularly pleased that Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) offered and spoke to an amendment that would have decoupled payments under the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program from current-year plantings in order to avoid production distortions.
Rep. Gibbs made clear in his remarks that the PLC program, as included in the draft Committee bill, could distort plantings during periods of low prices, and he argued that all crops should be supported at a consistent level, based on market prices. In withdrawing his amendment, Rep. Gibbs made clear his intention to raise these issues again when the bill moves to the House floor.
“We appreciate Rep. Gibbs’ efforts to highlight the potential distortions that could result from a program based on target prices that are coupled to current-year plantings. The avoidance of such distortions has been a core ASA priority from the beginning, and we commend the Congressman for bringing up this concern during Committee markup.”
Rep. Gibbs was successful in including a second amendment that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to report annually on the impact of the PLC and Revenue Loss Coverage (RLC) programs on the planting, production, price, and export of commodities, as well as on the cost of these programs.
ASA supported this provision as a means for monitoring Title 1 programs, particularly if payments based on high support levels are tied to current-year production, which could distort planting decisions.
Comments from the National Corn Growers Association
Meanwhile, national Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson released the following statement in response to the House Committee on Agriculture’s farm bill passage late Wednesday night:
“We greatly appreciate the work by House Committee on Agriculture’s Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson and the Committee to move forward in the process to develop a five-year farm bill. NCGA is assessing similarities and differences between the legislation and our grower-developed policy.
“While we are pleased the process is moving forward, NCGA remains extremely concerned with the Committee’s decision to adopt a fixed-target-price program that moves U.S. farm policy away from the market-oriented reforms that have made possible a robust rural economy. It is also disappointing the Committee failed to use this opportunity to ensure a Revenue Loss Coverage program that is a genuine risk management option for producers.
“We understand this is only the second step in a long process, and we do applaud the House Ag Committee for holding a markup.
“Now, we call upon Speaker John Boehner to quickly take up the bill in the full House. We look forward to our continued work with members and staff on this important piece of legislation and urge Congress to pass a farm bill this year.”
Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation released the following statement.
“The House Agriculture Committee today approved its version of the 2013 farm bill. That bill joins the version approved on Tuesday by the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“This provides a great reason for optimism we will have a new long-term farm bill this year. That belief is further supported by the fact that the bills are more striking in their similarities than in their differences. Both bills provide a solid start for a farm bill that serves America’s farm and ranch families. The emphasis on crop insurance as a risk management tool, combined with flexibility that the measures offer through other safety net choices, will go a long way in ensuring a stable agricultural economy over the next few years.
“These bipartisan-supported bills offer a basic-but-broad risk management platform supported by all types of farmers and ranchers in all regions. Among the balanced risk management strategy are options based both on crop prices and revenue levels.
“Both committees also proved thoughtful in their efforts to reform our nation's farm law, from significant changes in how commodity programs are structured to streamlining in other aspects, such as conservation programs. The savings from those efforts will help pay for new risk management programs and make contributions to reduce our nation's deficit.
“Many aspects of both bills reflect the essence of Farm Bureau’s farm bill proposal. We continue to analyze both bills and will weigh their ability to provide effective risk management tools to meet the needs of America's farmers, ranchers and growers.
“This and other issues will be hashed out when the full House and Senate take up their bills and then again when the chambers come together to negotiate a single bill. We remain optimistic that the congressional leadership will carry on in the bipartisan spirit exemplified by the House and Senate Agriculture committees, and that they will remain true to their commitment to pass a farm bill.”