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.
Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Forwards Farm Bill Recommendations to House Agriculture Committee
WASHINGTON - Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management approved proposals for the commodity and crop insurance programs for the 2007 Farm Bill. Congressman Bob Etheridge of North Carolina is the Chairman of the Subcommittee.
The Subcommittee considered discussion drafts outlining proposals under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction and approved several amendments. A brief summary of the discussion drafts considered and amendments adopted is included below.
“Today the subcommittee began to chart the direction that the Agriculture Committee should take with the Commodity Title of the Farm Bill,” said Chairman Etheridge. “Every member on the subcommittee is sincerely interested in improving the safety net for our nation's hard-working farmers. Our challenge is to accomplish that goal with a smaller baseline and without any new resources. As we move to the full committee we will continue to strengthen the safety net to ensure that farmers can provide a plentiful food supply for the American family's table.”
“I believe the work of the Subcommittee today was a step in the right direction,” said Ranking Member Jerry Moran. “The work we accomplished today reinstituted the safety net of the previous Farm Bill that many producers are comfortable with. I am also pleased the Subcommittee preserved the direct payment, which is the most reliable and least market distorting part of the current safety net structure. As the Commodity Title moves to the full Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues to further strengthen the safety net for America’s agricultural producers.”
Commodity Programs: The Subcommittee unanimously approved an amendment offered by Chairman Etheridge that substituted an extension of the 2002 Farm Bill language for the commodity programs under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction in the place of the discussion draft considered by the Subcommittee. This retains the basic farm safety net by extending marketing assistance loans, direct payments and counter-cyclical payments and keeps intact the percentage of base acres for which farmers may receive payments. The committee also considered and rejected amendments representing alternative Farm Bill proposals.
In addition to the Chairman’s substitute amendment, the following amendments were approved by the Subcommittee:
· Congressman Jim Marshall’s amendment to adjust premiums and discounts associated with cotton under loan, to recalculate the adjusted world price of cotton based on Far East markets as opposed to Northern European markets, and to provide economic assistance cotton users.
· Congressman Charles Boustany’s second-degree amendment to the Jim Marshall amendment to separate the marketing loans, loan rates, and target prices for long grain and medium/short grain rice.
· Congressman Charles Boustany’s amendment to make technical corrections to the target price and loan rate for rice.
· Congresswoman Nancy Boyda’s amendment to establish a single corn and sorghum loan rate in each county.
· Congressman Brad Ellsworth’s amendment to create a pilot program in Indiana to allow for the planting of tomatoes grown and contracted for processing on up to 10,000 base acres, reducing base acres on an acre-by-acre basis for each acre of tomatoes planted.
· Ranking Member Moran’s amendment expressing the sense of Congress that money used to fund programs under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction should not be transferred to fund programs authorized or reauthorized under any other title of the Farm Bill.
Crop Insurance: The discussion draft on the crop insurance program considered by the Subcommittee allows USDA to renegotiate the standard reinsurance agreement subject to limitations, improves crop insurance policies for organically raised crops and targets risk management strategies and education for beginning, immigrant, and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. It also establishes a crop insurance program for sesame producers, extends the number of cotton-producing states as defined by the Cotton Research and Promotion Act, and extends the availability of cotton classification services for cotton producers.
In addition to the discussion draft, the Subcommittee approved the following amendment:
· Congressman Randy Neugebauer’s amendment to give farmers the option to purchase supplemental area-based crop insurance in addition to their individual yield or revenue policy.
All markups will be broadcast live on the House Agriculture Committee’s website.