On September 19 U.S. President Barack Obama presented his plan to reduce the federal deficit and create jobs. In his proposal, he mentioned ag programs, specifically getting rid of direct payments, cutting funding for conservation programs and crop insurance and extending farm disaster aid programs.
Overall, Obama's proposal would cut $33 billion from federal ag spending over 10 years. In response to the president's deficit reduction plan, several leaders of the Iowa Corn Growers Association expressed disappointment with funding reductions to crop insurance and conservation, and believe there are better ways to focus funding for agriculture programs.
National Corn Growers Association president Bart Schott stated, "NCGA recently unveiled the Agriculture Disaster Assistance Program (ADAP), a plan that transfers a significant portion of direct payments for deficit reduction, with the remaining funds put toward an improved risk management program that better complements federal crop insurance." The ADAP plan revises and enhances current revenue programs, and reduces funds for farm programs while providing risk management for farmers.
Bipartisan Farm Bill plan to be Introduced by group of U.S. Senators
Also last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators including Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Thune(R-SD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Richard Lugar (R-IN), unveiled their Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management program (ARRM) proposal. The senators' goal was to develop a revenue-oriented and less complicated risk management program, says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, government relations director for the Iowa Corn Growers Association. The ARRM farm bill plan has many aspects resembling an improved ACRE program, and it would eliminate the SURE program along with direct and counter-cyclical payment programs.
The proposed ARRM program is similar to the Agriculture Disaster Assistance Program (ADAP) introduced earlier this month by National Corn Growers Association, says Poldberg. The NCGA supports the ARRM bill.
For more information about the ICGA's policy positions on farm bill and federal spending issues, go to www.iowacorn.org. Or call 515-225-9242.
Soybean growers ask for continued support for strong U.S. agriculture
Iowa Soybean Association leaders are also watching these various farm bill and deficit reduction proposals coming out of Washington. The ISA released its Farm Bill Priorities paper on September 20, making the point, "U.S. agriculture in general is the brightest spot in the economy. U.S. farmers now export 40 million acres of whole soybeans and even more in meal, oil and livestock products as a result of public and private investments in research that has led to increased yields, trade development programs and an improved transportation system."
According to ISA president, Dean Coleman of Humboldt, "These improvements over the last 50 years have come about because of government and private investments in agriculture. And while competing nations such as Brazil are working to emulate our production and distribution systems, current Farm Bill discussions now going on in Washington seem to be only focusing on what must be cut rather than recognizing the value of supporting a strong U.S. production agriculture system."
The ISA Farm Bill Study Team of president Coleman, president-elect Mark Jackson of Rose Hill, Ron Heck of Perry, Ray Gaesser of Corning and Randy Van Kooten of Lynnville, worked on the report, asking lawmakers to take another look at those programs outside of direct subsidies which have built strong ag markets and allowed USDA to reduce government spending on agriculture.
Washington needs to realize the reasons why agriculture is doing well
Agricultural trade generates 8,000 jobs for every $1 billion in exports. Returns from agricultural research have a benefit/cost ratio of 20 to 1. Renewable energy has created well over 400,000 jobs and lowered the price of fuel while increasing availability of lower cost animal feed. Conservation programs have cut soil erosion in half and improved water quality while increasing habitat for wildlife. Transportation and infrastructure investments give U.S. soy exports a $70 to $90 per ton advantage over Brazil in landed transportation costs.
"No one is talking about the reasons why agriculture is doing well," points out Ron Heck, soybean farmer from Perry. "The investments in trade expansion, ag research, renewable energy, conservation and transportation systems have put U.S. farmers in the current favorable market situation. We're asking that those programs be continued, along with a meaningful safety net program."
2012 Farm Bill should provide support for programs that strengthen ag
The report concludes, "ISA believes the 2012 Farm Bill should provide support for these programs that strengthen our greatest economic engine—agricultural production. Agricultural trade, research, renewable energy, conservation and transportation systems cannot be maintained by farmers acting alone. Public investments in agriculture have provided a huge benefit to the economy with a decreasing number of very productive farmers. This public investment in the programs that support agriculture should continue."
For more information about the ISA's policy positions, call 515-251-8640.
To learn more about ISA, visit its website at www.iasoybeans.com.