When I became Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in January of this year, I had one primary goal: to ensure that America’s farmers and ranchers have the policies in place that they need to feed, fuel, and clothe the nation while ensuring stability and consistency for farmers, ranchers, consumers, markets, and rural communities. After all, agriculture is the foundation of our livelihood and the lifeblood of rural America. And, while our work will never be done, we are off to a great start.
Congress Readies Safety Net Improvements
U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) says a House-Senate conference to finalize legislation for crop insurance improvements will begin soon with the aim of making expanded livestock and market revenue coverage available beginning with winter wheat crops seeded this September. Immediate improvements take place strengthening the program's management and integrity.
Chairman Combest views the many similarities in the House version, "The Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 1999" (H.R. 2559) and today's Senate passage of "The Risk Management for the 21st Century Act" (S.2251) as good news for enacting expanded and affordable coverage for producers.
"House and Senate have the makings of a vastly-improved safety net that has the permanent, long term budget commitment of Congress to advance the producer's management control over risk from weather and markets," said Rep. Combest. "Preparations are underway for the House-Senate conference to meet soon to come together with our mutual objective of crop insurance reform. This measure offers the opportunity for better risk management decisions, best made by producers, selecting the coverage they've told us is needed."
"The Agricultural Risk Protection Act"
Strengthens the farm safety net by making crop insurance more accessible to growers, reducing the need for unbudgeted ad hoc disaster assistance.
Improves management and integrity of the program through coordinated record keeping and increased penalties for program abuses.
Helps farmers protect against declining prices and farm income by making more affordable insurance coverage that protects farmers not only against crop losses, but declining prices.
Makes revenue insurance, including Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR), Crop Revenue Coverage, and other policies developed (such as cost of production insurance) more affordable so farmers can better protect their bottom line.
For the first time, offers assistance to livestock ranchers seeking risk management tools to combat the adverse financial impact of volatile weather and markets.
Helps farmers protect more of what they grow by limiting any reduction in insurable yields due to crop losses from a natural disaster. (Under this bill, 60 percent of the county's average yield would be the lowest yield assigned to a farmer for a crop year when actual production history is calculated to arrive at insurable yields.)
Instead of settling for coverage that insures 50 percent of yield and 55 percent of the crop's market value, farmers will be offered area yield insurance that carries a higher combination of yield and price protection.
Unanimous House passage of the "Agricultural Risk Protection Act" (H.R. 2559) occurred on September 29, 1999.