Clements: Legislation introduced by Senators Heidi Hietkamp and Joni Ernst would make changes to the Agricultural Risk Coverage program. AFBF and other farm groups penned a letter to the Senators this week expressing support for the bill. AFBF congressional relations director Mary Kay Thatcher says the bill would change the program to better serve farmers' needs.
Thatcher: The three things that are covered in this bill we believe provide us a really good opportunity to fix something that we’ve heard a lot about. Lots of farmers are talking about the discrepancy in payments between counties, also talking about what kind of data was being using. I think using the Risk Management Agency, the crop insurance data, is the first choice, rather than using NASS data.
Clements: The bill would also require USDA to calculate safety net payments based on a farm’s physical location. The changes should help ensure farmers a strong safety net moving forward.
Thatcher: It’s important to have a safety net when farmers are having to deal with difficult times. Certainly, we are looking at an economy around the world that’s not doing all that great, so we need to make sure that there is a safety net there for farmers.
Clements: Committee markup of the next farm bill may start soon, but the bulk of the farm bill work isn’t likely until early next year. Thatcher says the budget is very limited.
Thatcher: We have 37 programs that are funded now that won’t be funded. So, we have to worry about how we can get some of those back into the program. So, we are going to have to be as efficiently as we can with money to try and get a well rounded bill that we can pass through the House and the Senate and have the president sign.
Clements: Micheal Clements, Washington.