Barley Growers Present Committee with Policy Recommendations

Mar 8, 2001

Barley Growers Present Committee with Policy Recommendations
Modifications in policy to help remove U.S. barley from endangered list

(March 8, 2001)

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas) convened the third in a series of hearings on the future of American farm policy today. Responding to the Chairman's challenge to present specific proposals on their own commodity programs was the barley industry.

"Each commodity group, by presenting specific testimony, is helping this Committee transform a potentially rocky process into a smooth evaluation of the farm safety net,"said Chairman Combest. "When we are completed, America's farmers and ranchers will be the beneficiaries of our hard work and diligence during this process."

Dan Wiltse, president of the National Barley Growers Association, presented testimony on behalf of the U.S. barley industry. Mr. Wiltse testified that the barley industry is endangered as a result of declining barley acres. Currently one half of barley produced in the U.S. is produced for malting purposes. According to Wiltse, even though premium prices are paid for malt barley, barley production is decreasing due to higher loan raters for other grain crops.

The barley growers focused their testimony on three key areas: The Marketing Loan Program, fixed and decoupled AMTA payments, and a counter-cyclical income safety net program.

Marketing Loans
· The barley loan rate should be based on a five-year Olympic average of barley prices. The loan rate should be no less than 85% of average barley prices received by farmers during the 1996-2000 period, adjusted to reflect historical price differences between commodities.
· Loan repayment rates should be determined by using an "all-barley" prices. Posted county prices should be set at levels that do not encourage producers to forfeit feed barley in the event marketing loan gains would otherwise be higher than LDP's. In addition, producers should be allowed to lock in LDP's at any time after a crop is planted, with payment after determination of actual production.
· Current federal payment limitations on marketing loan gains and LDP's should be abolished so everyone can fully utilize this counter-cyclical program for all eligible production.

AMTA Payments
· The crop payment should be extended without regard to domestic price fluctuations and should be decoupled from current and future production to avoid influencing planting decisions.
· The minimum barley AMTA payment level should be restored to the 27.2 cents/bushel affiliated with the 1999 AMTA program.

Counter-Cyclical Supplemental Income Program
· A counter-cyclical income support program totaling a maximum $3 billion per year. Payments would be made on historical base acreage and yields when market prices and the AMTA payment (including per-bushel or per-unit farm program payments) are less than an established Market Support Level for each commodity.