Farm bureau revamps proposal for five-year bill

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“Last year, Congress merely extended the old 2008 farm bill until Sept. 30 of this year. Now, while unfortunately we have less money to work with, it is vital that Congress complete a new five-year farm bill this year. Doing so is in the economic interest of our entire nation,” Farm Bureau president Bob Stallman said in a release.

The Congressional Budget Office, using updated yield projections, last month found that last year’s Senate bill only reduces deficits by only $13 billion, $10 billion less than previously thought. The new projections mean that farm groups and rural lawmakers have less money to design a new safety net. 

The new proposal reflects the need for added cuts and incorporates some policy decisions made by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees during their failed attempts last year to enact a farm bill.

Whereas the Farm Bureau in 2012 proposed a catastrophic loss insurance program that was widely rejected by lawmakers, this year, it is proposing a system tailored to insuring against smaller revenue losses. 

The Farm Bureau is also proposing keeping countercyclical programs in place for all commodities other than cotton. 

Last year, the Senate attempted to eliminate such price-triggered farm subsidies, but the House produced a bill keeping target price supports in place after intense lobbying by rice and peanut producers. 

The Farm Bureau proposal reduces deficits by $23 billion and enacts a “three legged stool” of improved crop insurance, modified target prices and marketing loans and a new revenue loss program known as STAX.

Target prices are cut by different levels based on commodities and the STAX program is also scaled back from legislative proposals made in the last Congress. 

The Farm Bureau proposal has less deficit savings than proposed by House leaders, who successfully kept the committee farm bill from the floor last Congress.  The new House 2014 budget calls for $31 billion in savings from commodity programs and more than $100 billion more in cuts to food stamps, which is governed by the farm bill as well. 

The National Cotton Council had no comment on the Farm Bureau proposal Monday.