Debate, Discussions on New Farm Bill

Hembree Brandon reported recently at the Delta Farm Press Online that, “While many in agriculture are still trying to fathom the complexities of the 2014 farm bill and its implementation, members of Congress and ag sector leaders are already laying preliminary groundwork for the 2019 farm bill.

“With a dramatic drop in net farm income from the highs of 2013, and projections that outlays for the current legislation will be billions over budget, it’s expected that debate on the next bill will be contentious.”

Mr. Brandon noted that, “In an article in the latest issue of Choices, the magazine of the American Agricultural Economics Association, G.A. Barnaby and Levi A. Russell say the focus on crop insurance — the foundation of the 2014 legislation — will likely continue, with three potential options likely to be proposed in the debate over the next bill: replacing crop insurance with a free, area-based disaster program; making modifications to existing policy, which would significantly reduce support to farmers and jeopardize the private delivery system; and complete elimination of the safety net. Their article summarizes the political factors and their interaction with the economic effects of these proposals.”

The Delta Farm Press item added that, “To that end, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking a while back to the National Farmers Union, said, ‘I just have one bit of advice on the (next) farm bill: Please, please, please don’t let folks on the Hill start the conversation like they did last time … which was, ‘Golly, let’s see how much money we can save.'”

“He described lawmakers’ approach to the 2014 farm bill as an effort to spend as little as possible, as opposed to creating programs to truly help farmers and rural America.”

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