Ag Committee Reviews Efficacy of the Farm Safety NetFri, 25 Jun 2021 11:23:13 CDT
On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management met to assess the efficacy of the current farm safety net as lawmakers begin the lengthy process of considering what changes might be needed to enhance or bridge current inadequacies in farm programs leading up to the development of the 2023 Farm Bill.
In her opening comments, Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL), stated “This is an important hearing to get input from producers about how the 2018 Farm Bill programs are working and to get a better understanding of what is happening in the countryside.” Bustos added, “The information we gather from you today and in future hearings is critically important in our work to ensure that help is there when times are tough and when disaster strikes.”
Ranking Member Austin Scott (R-GA) followed by stating, “As we review the effectiveness of the safety net and begin to consider future changes, our primary objective must be to do no harm to the existing programs and make sure any enhancements are to the benefit of all of production agriculture, not just certain regions of the country or specific causes of loss.”
Jeff Kirwan, a corn and soybean farmer from Illinois who testified before the committee, noted “That crop insurance is the cornerstone of my operation and the ability to market grain, manage risk, and financially survive depends on crop insurance.
Moreover, Kirwan and other witnesses testified, that while crop insurance is a critical safety net tool for the agriculture industry, CFAP, WHIP-Plus and MFP have been “timely emergency assistance” for producers throughout the last three years as ARC and PLC programs were not designed to deal with some of the recent challenges brought on by trade disruption, cataclysmic natural disasters, or the recent pandemic.
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA) outlined his guiding principles for disaster programs during the subcommittee hearing and stated in his opening comments, that “Whether it be a natural disaster that can wipe out a crop at a moment’s notice, a foreign government that interferes with a market, or a pandemic that disrupts the entire supply chain producers are in a constant battle to remain viable. That is why a strong safety net is a critical piece of rebuilding a robust rural economy.”
The three principles that Representative Thompson outlined included:
· The program must complement rather than compete with crop insurance;
· The program should be easy to implement, and;
· The program should be reliable and respond quickly to disaster events.
Representative Thompson finalized his statement with a call for bipartisanship and stated that, “If Chairman David Scott (D-GA) is willing to work within those three principles, I want to work with him to craft the best policy possible. No one member or single party has a monopoly on good ideas and working together to achieve a common goal will undoubtedly render a better outcome.”
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