House Ag Leaders Return from Recess with Farm Bill Ideas

House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson are reportedly determined to pass a farm bill that includes a target price and counter cyclical program for crop farmers along with the revenue approach included in the measure approved by the Senate Ag Committee. The commodity title of that bill is based on a revenue program that would pay farmers some of the loss that crop insurance doesn’t cover when revenue goes down. Some groups – including the American Farm Bureau Federation – like the approach. Others – like National Farmers Union – have noted the base for calculating those payments will go down if prices drop for several years in a row. The situation in his home state of Oklahoma has made Lucas more convinced that farmers need the option of a target-price based program. He wants a farm bill that really is a safety net – and says the Senate bill doesn’t have a floor for bad times.

After conducting several meetings during the recess – Ranking Member Peterson says he also believes a target price and counter cyclical payment program is the preferred option. He says his constituents see eliminating the target price as giving up certainty in the bad times.

While Chairman Lucas told Western Growers the 2008 farm bill might be extended – he says his preference is to get the bill done this year in time to get it implemented. He says he was just being honest about the difficulties of getting the bill passed this year. Still – he thinks it is possible to get it done. The Senate bill is expected to come to the floor in early June. Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow says she has the votes to end debate and pass the bill. Later in June – Lucas hopes to mark up the farm bill in his committee.


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