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Posts Tagged ‘Farm Bill’

2012 Farm Bill: Is It Finally Time?

I have written in other posts on my thoughts regarding the Farm Bill. Once again, we have the opportunity to make changes that could turn a program into a true safety net…meaning it would send producers back up, after falling, not catch them and not let go, or worse yet, promote a state of long-term dependence.

Being from California, I suspect I have a slightly different perspective on the issue of crop insurance. However, I also believe that there are others, particularly in Florida and Michigan, to name a few, who have some similar thoughts. I mention this because of our tremendous diversity in crops grown, many of which do not even qualify for support from the current or past Farm Bills. Read more…

Balanced Budget: Direct Payments and Education

I previously had a post on my thoughts on the Farm Bill. Since then, I have put together some more thoughts on Federal programs, regulations and the deficit. For those who know me, I do not like to “beat around the bush” and so I plan on sharing a couple of posts in very frank and simple terms on issues that politicians have made very complicated. The House, Senate and President have wasted enough time talking and I am offering some straight forward recommendations in less than 2000 pages.

The Federal government spends more than it takes in and wastes much of what it does spend. If the Federal government does not balance the budget, reduce the deficit and onerous regulatory burden on business, our country is in serious trouble.  All entitlements, programs and departments must be “put on the table” and either undergo serious reform or be eliminated, to truly reduce the debt, balance the budget and return our country to one that promotes initiative, business and private sector job growth.

Farm Bill

1. Phase out all direct payments and subsidies for crops as well as credits for manufacturing and blending of ethanol over three years. Read more…

The Farm Bill: A Rancher’s Thoughts

The Farm Bill has been a “hot topic” in social media channels. A number of my friends and followers have asked my opinions on the subject, a challenge to do with a limited number of characters available on Twitter and Facebook.

Given the current political climate, we are facing an opportunity to make some major changes in the Farm Bill to make it more effective, efficient and at the same time reduce government spending. On this first Farm Bill post, I hope to touch briefly on each of five of the six components: Food Stamps, Child Nutrition, Commodity Programs, Conservation and Crop Insurance.

This post, while not entirely “complete,” is a first shot at trying to explain some of my thoughts. I look forward to the comments and dialogue that result. Anytime the Farm Bill is discussed, opinions are certain to come out. I only ask that the discourse be professional and I will be sure to post.

Background

In the early 20th century, federal farm programs were developed after an era of extremely low farm income, food scarcity and Dust Bowl conditions of the Depression. This, combined with a national focus to maintain domestically produced food security, prompted federal intervention in the agricultural marketplace.

 The farm programs culminated in The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1949, more commonly known as the “farm bill,” which is the founding legislation on which all subsequent farm bills have been based. The farm bill is generally amended every five years, with the next amendment in 2012.

 The farm bill should respond to changes in agricultural production, consumer demand and trade negotiations. The current 2008 Farm Bill contains 15 titles, including new titles for horticulture and organic agriculture, livestock, crop insurance and disaster assistance programs. Interestingly, nearly 75 percent of farm bill funding is directed to nutrition programs such as food stamps and the school lunch program.

New, in the 2008 Farm Bill is an approach to address risk management and permanent disaster assistance rather than ad-hoc funding requests when disasters occur. While long-term solutions are a step in the right direction, this has led to sometimes intense discussions over which direction is the best to take.

 While debate over the effectiveness of new programs continues, there remains strong congressional support for traditional farm program payments such as direct and counter cyclical payments, and lukewarm support for the new average crop revenue program known as ACRE. It is well understood that farm bill politics are regional, rather than partisan.

With the current situation of our nation’s economy, wasteful spending by the federal government is being targeted. This is perhaps an opportune time to take a very close look at the Farm Bill and make some substantial changes that will benefit our countries food security, keep a healthy marketplace and still meet the needs of low-income families.

Food Stamps

  1. I fully support true low-income families receiving assistance for the purchase of milk, meat, fruits and vegetables.
  2. The ability of low-income families to purchase non-food items with the Food Stamp program MUST CEASE!

Child Nutrition

  1. Being able to provide at least one healthy meal to children is essential. As a former teacher I have seen firsthand the need of the students, especially those from low-income homes. Sadly, for many children, lunch at school is the only meal they receive.
  2. Meals provided at schools must be healthy and nutritious and include all of the food groups. Balance is essential.
  3. As a side note, I personally believe that schools that receive government funding for meals should also require that their students take a physical exercise class each year and also a nutrition and health course.

Commodity Programs

  1. Maintain payments to farms growing commodities on the actual acreage that base acreage is calculated for five years, or until trade deals can be modified to “fair” trade from “free” trade. All trade agreements must return to equal standards. Trade partners must be held to same regulatory standards that domestic farmers incur.
  2. Eliminate payments to farms not growing commodities specified on base acreage reports. For example, a farmer with an orchard on acreage listed for a base with rice, should not receive payments.

Crop Insurance

  1. A reliable insurance program should be available for producers to buy into on an annual basis for commodities that do not have insurance available through private firms.
  2. In order for producers to collect on a “loss,” the crop must be inspected and a determination on salvage value made to establish whether to plow under or harvest. The times of plowing under a crop first, then calling for inspection is over.
  3.  Insurance payments should be paid on the difference of revenue from sale subtracted from an average yield for crop based on surrounding historical data at market price, at time of claim.
  4.  Historical data should be on a “local” basis, within a county or within a 100 mile radius. The current regions utilized by Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) cover to large of a geographic area to accurately represent yield and market price averages.
  5. Livestock indemnity programs must continue for operations that incur natural disasters and suffer loss of livestock due to predation. Payments should be based on a local basis as mentioned in #’s 3 and 4 above.
  6. Predation payments that are a result of loss from predators protected by the government should be at full market value, not a percentage.

Conservation

  1. Programs that encourage conservation, water efficiency and erosion control should be continued.
  2. Conservation easements on land that cannot be farmed due to government regulation should continue.
  3. Conservation easements on land that can be farmed should be discontinued.
  4. Programs to improve water efficiency should only be available to producers that are actually irrigating. Producers that have and are utilizing programs to install irrigation on land that has never been irrigated should not be eligible.
  5. Programs to assist producers with erosion sensitive land should be continued. However, once the land has been stabilized and best management practices are in place, payments should stop.
  6. Eligibility of producers to utilize programs need to be based on annual NET income, not GROSS.

Closing Thoughts

Certainly, this post does not cover the entire Farm Bill and its components, however, I tried to hit on the portions that I have seen producers and consumers take advantage of. They are also the areas where I know waste exists that can and should be cut. Feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, feedback and criticism. I look forward to the discussion.

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