Craig Brown, National Cotton Council Vice President of Producer Affairs, says we'll have to wait and see whether or not Congress will have to start from scratch when writing the new Farm Bill. Ag Committee leaders had made a great deal of progress when the so-called Super Committee was working to develop a budget cutting package:
“I think the work done by both chairmen will pay dividends, and we hope it will sever as a starting point for negotiations as we continue. I know that the chairmen had been looking for a place to fit a Farm Bill package into a budget offset and so far have not been successful. But, I think they will keep looking to kind of drop it in as an offset and try to get it done early. That not being the case then we will have a more protracted process.
But, hopefully all the work and negotiating and discussing won’t push us back to ground zero.”
Brown believes that the ag leaders did a pretty remarkable job of putting together a Farm Bill package that would save 23 billion dollars over 10 years. But he notes this effort does extend beyond the super committee — as the clock is ticking on current farm policy:
“We have to do something because this farm bill expires with the 2012 crop. So, it’s going to be necessary to extend what we have or rewrite the legislation in something close to what we can live with. I think the real challenge whether we can hold the budget savings at $23 billion. We’re resolved to the fact that we’re going to have to make a contribution to the budget deficit and that’s what was so amazing about the process is they made a $23 billion contribution to the budget deficit and were able to write a farm bill that at least had a general consensus. It certainly satisfied us in the cotton industry.”
Brown also believes safe is a relative term when it comes to a safety net and crop insurance in the new Farm Bill:
“We believe that we have a very sound proposal. We believe it’s budget responsive. It addresses the WTO/Brazil case, and it takes what resources we have left and converts it into an effective risk management program. Now, it’s different because it is a crop insurance product that producers will have to purchase, but it has a high level of inputs from Farm Bill base lines for cotton, paid for with our baseline, and we believe that it’s something that the cotton industry can certainly live with, and we think that it’s certainly doing our fair share for the budget.”
Brown spoke during the annual Beltwide Cotton Conference going on in Orlando through today.