As the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill gets further digested by groups - it is a 900-page document - reaction continues. And not all of it is positive.
The Environmental Law and Policy Center has issued a call for farmers and interested folks to contact their lawmakers to to take action. They point out that the Senate version of the bill contains zero mandatory funding for the Farm Bill Energy Title, which includes such programs as the Rural Energy for American Program and other programs aimed at promoting domestic energy.
The group points out that the Farm Bill's clean energy programs have helped "thousands of agricultural producers and rural small businesses boost their profits, cut costs." They say that REAP alone has saved or created almost 7,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, the National Corn Growers Association issued a statement from Garry Niemeyer, association president, who commended the committee for the "well-crafted 2012 Farm Bill. The National Corn Growers Association is pleased to see the Committee listened to the concern's of our nations corn growers and have done a great job keeping our priorities under consideration while drafting the legislation. NCGA believes the Committee print is consisten with what our members have been advocating."
And the American Farm Bureau Federation issued a statement noting that the draft farm bill follows the association's "core principles for 'rational, acceptable farm policy,' but there is room for adjustments to improve the legislation."
AFBF President Bob Stallman delivered that message to Senate Agriculture Committee leaders in a letter today following a meeting of the organization's board of directors. In the letter, AFBF urged the committee to approve the draft "as a vehicle to move the farm bill to the Senate floor in a timely manner." While the letter said "the importance of completing a farm bill cannot be overstated," it also said that AFBF would seek opportunities "to make adjustments and refinements to improve the legislation."
The letter, sent to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), started by commending them for moving forward in a bipartisan fashion to write the 2012 farm bill.
The letter specifically outlined AFBF's support for several points included in the Senate farm bill, including: the decision to "stand firm on utilizing the figure of $23 billion in savings suggested to the Super Committee last fall"; the fact that the Senate bill protects and strengthens the federal crop insurance program and does not reduce funding for the program; that programs are not based on cost of production; and that it includes "a commodity title that attempts to encourage producers to follow market signals rather than make planting decisions in anticipation of government payments."
While AFBF will seek further refinements in the Senate farm bill, Stallman's letter highlights a number of the bill's provisions supported by the organization. Included among a larger list of those provisions were:
- Support for elimination of direct payments, countercyclical payments, the average crop revenue election program and the SURE program;
- Maintaining the current marketing loan program;
- Rejecting any provision linking conservation compliance with crop insurance;
- Eliminating the dairy price support program and the Milk Income Loss Contract program and using the funds associated with those programs to offer a voluntary gross margin insurance program for dairy producers;
- Mandating that USDA's Risk Management Agency develop by 2013 a revenue insurance product that meets the needs of peanut producers; and
- Achieving the vast majority of necessary reductions in conservation funding from land-retirement programs rather than working-land programs.