While speaking to Farm Bureau members in convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, American Farm Bureau Federation farm policy specialist Mary Kay Thatcher said farmers are better off if members of Congress can agree on a new a farm bill this year. Although, passing a new farm bill could be an uphill climb and it could get pushed to next year. She predicted – even more budget cuts, if the bill is delayed until 2013.
Thatcher outlined the political situation surrounding the farm bill, including growing support in Congress for limiting eligibility by capping farmers’ income and increasing use of food stamps and other nutrition programs as the U.S. economy remains sluggish. Nutrition programs already account for about 700-billion dollars – 76 percent – of the farm bill’s total 10-year spending cost of 911-billion dollars.
Meanwhile, AFBF economist John Anderson continued the push for adoption of Farm Bureau’s Systemic Risk Reduction Program farm bill proposal, which is designed to protect farmers from catastrophic revenue losses. Proposed coverage levels would be in the 70 percent to 80 percent range. It would operate as a core program with farmers buying crop insurance as “wrap-around” revenue risk protection. It would lower farmers’ crop insurance premiums.