House Panel Reviews Farm Bill Crop Insurance, Commodity Policies

House Panel Reviews Farm Bill Crop Insurance, Commodity Policies

USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse answers legislators' questions on farm bill reforms

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, on Thursday hosted a hearing to discuss USDA's efforts in implementing reforms in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The hearing focused on reforms to the commodity title, repealing several programs and providing producers with an option between Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage.

According to the National Association of Wheat Growers, special attention was paid to the interim rule that the Risk Management Agency released last week on the farm bill's crop insurance program implementation.

USDA Under Secretary Michael Scuse answers legislators' questions on farm bill reforms

There has been some concern from Congress and commodity groups alike, NAWG said, about the Actual Production History adjustment provision not being available to growers until the 2016 crop year. This provision would allow producers to exclude any yield for any crop that experienced over 50% loss nation-wide for that given year. This provision is of particular interest in regions suffering from multi-year disasters.

In response to concerns, Under Secretary Scuse committed to providing the committee a detailed written explanation by next week, with the issues the agency is encountering during implementation of this provision immediately.

"I commend USDA's initial efforts to implement the Agricultural Act of 2014 and I challenge them to fully deliver on the promises made to our farmers and ranchers in the law," Conaway commented following the hearing.

"Specifically, USDA must make it a priority to implement the Actual Production History adjustment because it provides critical relief for producers who have struggled with severe and devastating drought conditions for the past four years. Producers suffering from a drought shouldn't have to wait until the third year of a five-year farm bill to receive relief, particularly when Congress intended for it to be available immediately.

"Undersecretary Scuse told us today he is committed to exploring partial implementation of this provision and will provide the committee with details about potential timelines," he said. "It is crucial we work together to resolve some of these issues so that our producers have the necessary information to make plans for their farming and ranching operations.

View a replay of the hearing on the House Ag Committee website.

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