by Ken Root & Whitney Flach
Regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, new farm bill talks will start in earnest next year. The immediacy of low commodity prices is driving the effort to get a five year bill that has a real safety net for producers of grain, cotton, and dairy.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the 2014 Farm Bill’s “not perfect,” adding no farm bill is. Duvall says the 2014 bills’ dairy and cotton programs are not working and need fixes, as does the bill’s revenue coverage program, ARC.
“We have some discrepancies between county averages in the programs around row crop. County lines shouldn’t make that big of a difference of how the programs and the farm bill helps our farmers.”
Duvall urges a cautious approach to structuring the next farm bill after political sensitivities forced a movement away from commodity programs and towards revenue coverage in the last one. “We need to find out what that safety net is, and then lets figure out how we are going to pay for it. We don’t need to walk in there this year and volunteer to take cuts, because we have already taken our cuts. It’s time for the other programs around congress to take those hits.”
Duvall says Farm Bureau is already discussing the next farm bill with an eye toward working out conflicts, regional and otherwise, before they occur.
A Farm Bureau working group with staff from all the state Farm Bureau’s has assembled more than 50 white papers, generating farm bill discussions. Duvall says those discussions will help AFBF develop singular policies for the next farm bill, versus many different points of view that only “confuse” lawmakers.