American Farm Bureau Delegates Deal With Reality on Farm Policy at 2012 AFBF MeetingMon, 09 Jan 2012 06:10:43 CST
One of the big jobs ahead for delegates of the American Farm Bureau who are in Hawaii this week for their 93rd annual convention will be making firm decisions on the farm policy stance of the largest general farm organization in the US. That process actually starts at the convention on Tuesday- but the conversation has been going on for more than a year. We have an audio overview of what is being discussed in Honolulu on the farm policy front- click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear comments from both Mary Kay Thatcher of AFBF as well as from Oklahoma Farm Bureau President Mike Spradling.
Corn belt Farm Bureau members want a so called "shallow loss" program which will help them when they have relatively small losses compared to normal crop production- farmers in the plains and the south are more worried about deep losses caused by wide swings in the weather- such as the insane weather we have dealt with across Oklahoma here in 2011.
Mary Kay Thatcher- long time lobbyist for AFBF- says one of the options on the table for Farm Bureau delegates to consider is to take some of the savings from the elimination of direct farm program payments and have the government pay for more of the cost of crop insurance for deep losses for all crops across the country.
The Farm Bureau concept is being called the "Systemic Risk Reduction Program," which they presented as an alternative to "shallow loss" proposals that would provide government support after a region, or in some cases an individual farmer, faced some initial loss as little as 5 to 10 percent of expected revenue.
AFBF's systemic risk reduction program would provide farmers "area-based coverage" that would be similar, but not identical to Group Risk Income Protection (GRIP) policies offered today, but at a minimal charge to the farmer. County level yield data would be used for the area trigger, but where data is limited, a crop reporting district or other geographical region would be used.
One of the major differences between current core-type policies and the systemic risk reduction program is the price used to determine trigger levels would be based on a three-year average, or a five-year Olympic average, depending on budget considerations. Proposed systemic risk reduction program coverage levels would likely be in the 70-80 percent range, with the exact level of coverage determined by budgetary guidelines.
Click here for a background paper on the Farm Bureau concept which is being forwarded to members of Congress this week, even as delegates consider this concept on Tuesday in Hawaii.
Thatcher is confident that Farm Bureau delegates will come together and establish a 2012 farm bill position- but she is rather pessimistic about Congress actually finishing a farm bill in 2012- she says the chances are something less than 50-50 that a 2012 Farm Bill will actually be done in 2012. The key hurdle- lack of time for members of Congress to do hardly anything as they focus on the November elections.
Farm Bureau members worry if the final farm bill deal is pushed into 2013- even deeper cuts will be demanded of the legislation that is crafted- and if either body changes hands from one party to another- that will further dramatically slow down the final process as one or both of the Agriculture Committees have to re-organize.
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