Pam Johnson, president of the National Corn Growers Association who farms with her family in northeast Iowa, congratulated the U.S. Senate yesterday on passage of the 2013 Farm Bill, officially known as the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013. The legislation was agreed to by a vote of 66-27. NCGA now urges the House of Representatives to quickly follow suit.
"America's farmers greatly appreciate the leadership and bipartisan efforts by the Senate to complete their work on the farm bill," Johnson said. "We also recognize the efforts put forth to address regional concerns to ensure all areas of the country are adequately represented in the final language."
NCGA has worked to advance market-oriented reforms in commodity programs to address significant gaps in the farm safety net, says Johnson. The revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage Program, designed to complement producers' individual crop insurance policies, will provide protection against multiyear price and production declines that adjusts with the marketplace. NCGA believes this signature reform, coupled with a strong federal crop insurance program, will result in substantial budget savings for taxpayers and more effective risk management tools for corn growers.
"This legislation is long overdue and our work is still not done," she adds. "Our focus now turns to the House of Representatives with hopes that they schedule floor time to consider the legislation as soon as possible. We look forward to continuing to partner with agriculture advocates to pass a new common-sense, reform-minded farm bill."
As Farm and Nutrition Bill clears U.S. Senate, Grassley payment limits are intact
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, made the following comment after the Senate passed the farm and nutrition bill. The final vote was 66-27. The bill keeps intact Grassley's provisions to focus farm payments on small- and medium-sized farmers and close loopholes that allow non-farmers to game the farm program system.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
"The bill that cleared the Senate on June 10 is a step in the right direction. Having responsible payment limits on the commodity program is crucial to the defensibility of the farm safety-net. We need payment caps on our commodity programs, and we need to close loopholes that have allowed non-farmers to game the system. I hope the House takes notice at the reforms in the Senate-passed bill and sees the positive changes we made to the farm payment system.
"And, while the inclusion of my payment limits plan is very reform-minded, the target price program that is included in the final bill will take us back a step. Target prices distort planting decisions, and I hear opposition to it from Iowa farmers all the time. We've tried it before and it doesn't work.
"While I continue to have concerns about the potential impacts of the shallow loss and target price programs created in this farm bill, I would also agree with the overwhelming sentiment from Iowa farmers that they need to have certainty. A five-year farm bill that includes my payment limit reforms, maintains the crop insurance program, and streamlines conservation programs gives that certainty."
Legislation would establish a per farm cap on farm program benefits
Grassley has long sought reform of the farm payment system. His provisions that were included in the bill are nearly identical to legislation he introduced earlier this year that would place a hard cap on the farm payments an individual farmer can receive in a year and close long-abused and well-documented loopholes in the farm payment program, he says. ~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
The legislation would establish a per farm cap of $50,000 on all commodity program benefits, except those associated with the marketing loan program (loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains), which would be capped at $75,000. Thus the combined limit would be $125,000, or, for married couples, $250,000. The $50,000 cap would apply to whatever type of program is developed as part of the new farm bill. The bill also closes loopholes that currently allow non-farmers to qualify for federal farm payments and would allow one off-farm manager, but only one.
Soybean Association welcomes Senate passage, calls on House to work quickly
With a vote of 66 to 27 this evening, the United States Senate voted to pass the 2013 Farm Bill. The focus now shifts to the House of Representatives, where work is reportedly scheduled to begin next week. Passing a comprehensive, five-year farm bill is the top priority for the American Soybean Association whose president, Danny Murphy, issued the following statement:
"The Senate has again shown admirable dedication to passing a new farm bill that will provide certainty for soybean farmers and our fellow members of the agriculture community," said Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss. "The bill passed this evening represents many of ASA's priorities and is a critical step toward strengthening the farm safety net, protecting planting flexibility, improving conservation, bolstering exports and feeding our nation's hungry.
"The bill also represents a commitment from farmers to our collective national financial responsibility, cutting billions in spending and streamlining redundant and ineffective federal programs. It is a bill that provides much-needed certainty to farmers facing a mounting force of weather- and market-related unknowns, and we commend Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Cochran, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the entire Senate for its hard work.
"We now turn our attention to the House, and call on Representatives to move the bill quickly through the chamber this month and on to conference with the Senate before the August recess. The version of the farm bill passed earlier by the House Agriculture Committee cuts direct payments as part of $40 billion in total savings, and streamlines more than 100 federal programs. We look to both the House and the Senate to work together quickly to formalize this commitment to America's farmers."