Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Thursday 05/09/13

Groups Largely Praise Senate Fam Bill Draft

Farm groups that have weighed in on the release of the Senate farm bill largely praised the legislation, though there were concerns expressed by the Senate target-price program, which largely keeps the same target-price levels under the current counter-cyclical program.

The Senate Agriculture Committee will markup the legislation on Tuesday. The House Agriculture Committee's version of the bill is expected to be released Friday. The House aggies mark up their bill on Wednesday.

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, said NFU members were pleased that the target-price program was added to the Senate bill. However, Johnson added, "in order to be substantial, target prices need to be increased and balanced in a meaningful way," he said. "We urge the inclusion of stronger protection against long-term price collapse for all commodities in all regions."

Johnson also added, "NFU is very pleased to see a strong energy title that includes $800 million in mandatory funding for programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biobased Markets Program and Biorefinery Assistance Program."

Bing Von Bergen, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said NAWG commends the committee for its work on both commodity programs and crop insurance.
"NAWG believes it is vital for wheat farmers and our economy to finish a long-term farm bill this year, before the existing farm bill extension expires. We look forward to working with Committee Members as they prepare for their mark-up next week and urge quick consideration of the Ag Committee's product on the Senate floor."

Danny Murphy, president of the American Soybean Association, also noted the Senate target-price program is decoupled from current planting decisions. ASA had expressed concerns that the target-price program could be coupled with production. ASA stated the bill "takes significant steps to provide farmers with effective risk management programs while protecting planting flexibility and avoiding planting distortions."

ASA also noted the Senate farm bill provides funding for both the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program and the Market Access Program.

The National Milk Producers Federation also stated in a news release the group also supports the bill, which includes the same language in the Dairy Security Act as the Senate farm bill last year.

Not everyone was pleased with the introduction of the Senate farm bill. The American Enterprise Institute sent out a release Thursday citing a critical op-ed from Vince Smith, an agricultural economist at Montana State University. The statement questions U.S. credibility trade because of its farm programs and argued that the commodity and crop-insurance proposals violate U.S. commitments to the World Trade Organization.

"All of the new farm lobby proposals (STAX, shallow loss, higher price supports, and the most widely used and heavily subsidized crop revenue insurance products) increase subsidies when international agricultural commodity prices fall. As a result, they create the potential for new WTO price suppression complaints from dozens of countries on over twenty agricultural commodities, ranging from major commodities such as corn and cotton to smaller acreage commodities such as canola, sunflower, chickpeas and lentils."

The full legislative language of the Senate bill can be found at http://www.ag.senate.gov/…

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 8:39PM CDT 05/09/13 by Chris Clayton
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