Oilseed Producers Group Presents Farm Program Recommendations to Committee
(March 29, 2001)
America's soybean and other oilseed farmers were the topic of the day as the House Agriculture Committee convened the eighth in a series of farm program hearings.
The program recommended by the soybean producers would include oilseeds in an expanded PFC program, set current market loan rates as floors rather than ceilings, and replace ad hoc emergency assistance with a counter-cyclical income support program.
Chairman Larry Combest (R-Texas) noted the importance of these hearings, saying, "Yesterday the House passed a budget resolution that contains what I consider to be a very solid commitment to agriculture. For the first time, we will have the opportunity of crafting policy based on what is best for American agriculture, rather than arbitrary numbers."
Mr. Bart Ruth, First Vice President of the American Soybean Association, presented testimony on behalf of the soybean industry, National Sunflower Association, and U.S. Canola Association. The testimony focused on the following key areas:
Marketing Loan Program
· The industry supports maintaining current oilseed loan rates for the 2002 crops, and setting these rates as floors rather than ceilings under future farm policy. In addition, the formula for adjusting loan levels to 85% of Olympic average prices in the previous five years would be retained. Finally, the Agriculture Secretary would continue to have discretion to set loan levels between the floor and the level indicated by the formula when prices warrant.
PFC (AMTA) Payments
· The industry asks that oilseeds be included in an expanded PFC program under future policy. Specifically, the industry requests that baseline annual funding provided for PFC payments after 2002 be increased from $4.008 billion to $5.7 billion, with the additional amount distributed to farms that produced oilseeds during the 1997-2001 period.
· Oilseed PFC payments would be distributed based on a farm's acreage and yield for each oilseed produced in any single year during the 1997-2001 period, at the choice of the producer. As with the current PFC program, these payments would be transferable with the acres on which they were produced in the selected year.
Counter-Cyclical Income Support
· The industry supports replacing ad hoc emergency economic assistance payments with a counter-cyclical income support program.
· A program proposed by the industry would offset any shortfall in the current year national gross return per acre for a crop from the Olympic average national gross return per acre for the crop during the 1993-1997 period. Gross return per acre is defined as the higher of the season average price or the loan rate for the crop, multiplied by national production, divided by national harvested acreage.
· The industry would propose providing payments to producers equal to the shortfall in a crop's return per acre on 85% of harvested acres in the current year.