Farm voices challenge farm bill guts | Michigan Farm News

Farm voices challenge farm bill guts

Category: Crops

by Farm Policy Facts

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Three possible amendments most frequently reported on by the media propose to gut crop insurance, undermine sugar policy and impose unworkable payment limits.

It’s a busy time to be a farmer. Many are in their fields planting, or preparing to do so.

They are literally “covering the ground” – cultivating roughly 300 million acres and preparing crops to be harvested in the fall to feed and clothe the world.

Even so, farmers are taking time to make sure their voices are heard as the farm bill debate unfolds. And that’s resulted in lots of correspondence to Capitol Hill from farmers and their allies.

There’s the letter to lawmakers last week from more than 300 farm groups across the country, which opposed potential anti-farmer amendments:

Given current economic conditions and the fiscal achievements of the farm bill, we strongly urge members not to impose even greater burdens on farmers by attaching harmful amendments during House floor consideration of the farm bill.

While a number of potentially harmful proposals have surfaced in recent weeks, three possible amendments most frequently reported on by the media propose to gut crop insurance, undermine sugar policy and impose unworkable payment limits.

We oppose these and any other amendments to H.R. 2 that would harm American farmers and ranchers and jeopardize passage of the bill on the House floor. During a prolonged recession in agriculture, failure to pass a farm bill on time would undermine the financial security of America’s food, fuel, crop and fiber producers.

Then there was one from 65 national organizations attacking proposals to gut crop insurance, which is an essential component of today’s farm policy:

Over the past three years the House Agriculture Committee has conducted numerous hearings and listening sessions throughout the country to talk about priorities for the 2018 farm bill. One consistent theme from these meetings was “do no harm to crop insurance.” Yet as we approach floor action on the farm bill, we may see amendments that would do significant harm to crop insurance and to rural America.

As you consider the 2018 farm bill on the House floor, we urge you to oppose harmful amendments to crop insurance, including those that would 1) reduce or limit participation in crop insurance, 2) make insurance more expensive for farmers during a time of economic downturn in agriculture, or 3) harm private-sector delivery.

And the one from more than 60 banks, accountants, and tax-preparers in sugar-producing areas who warned against weakening sugar policy in what has emerged as one of the farm bill’s flash points.

Elimination or weakening of the safety net would dramatically alter the level of risk associated with the farming operation, a key factor in lending decisions farmers and their lenders make each year. Without an effective safety net, lenders would balk at offering operating loans to farmers who would have little prospect of repaying the loans in a depressed market….

If this [amendment] is adopted, it would force oversupply of the U.S. sugar market and would effectively remove the price safety net for American sugar farmers. The collapse of domestic sugar producers would cause major disruptions in the supply chain for food manufacturers and American consumers.

And that doesn’t even include letters from labor leaders, think tanks, and even foreign farmers who have all weighed in on sugar.

…or the soybean and grain growers from Ohio, Kentucky, and Montana who wrote letters to local newspapers defending crop insurance.

…or the face-to-face Hill visits from wheat farmers and direct pleas from growers in cotton and other commodities, asking Congress to act quickly and protect the farm safety net.

Yes, this is a busy time to be a farmer indeed.