Rep. Austin Scott, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture, held a public hearing to review the impact of enforcement activities by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) on specialty crop growers. Specifically, Subcommittee Members addressed growing concerns that DOL is using the "Hot Goods" provision under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) in an arbitrary manner against producers of perishable agricultural commodities without regard for the inevitable destruction of the product and significant economic hardship inflicted on farmers and their employees.
House Votes to Strengthen Crop Insurance
By voice vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved major improvements to federal crop insurance law. H.R. 2559, The Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 1999, makes across-the-board cuts in farmer-paid premiums, provides affordable insurance that protects producers against price and production volatility, increases producers' insurable yields, and initiates new risk management for livestock producers.
The Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 1999 strengthens the farm safety net by making crop insurance more accessible to growers of all crops. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest (R-TX) said this major reform effort reduces the need for producer dependence on Congress to cobble together improvised and costly disaster assistance packages.
"This is Phase One of Congress' commitment to provide our nation's farmers with the strong safety net they need," said Combest. "Producers already struggle more than enough to meet the uncertainties of markets and weather, but it is too much to ask that they struggle year after year without the means to manage their risk through an effective crop insurance program. Making federal crop insurance affordable and effective is sound policy."
"The changes in crop insurance contained in H.R. 2559 allow us time to review and develop a comprehensive look at our long-term farm policy," said Charlie Stenholm, the House Agriculture Committee's ranking minority member.
Features of The Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 1999
Strengthens the farm safety net by making crop insurance more accessible to growers, reducing the need for unbudgeted ad hoc disaster assistance.
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 as well.
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.)