Grain News

ASA Calls For House and Senate Passage of Farm Bill Versions

Date Posted: May 17, 2013

Soybean Growers Call for Swift Passage of Senate Farm Bill

St. Louis, MO—With a vote of 15-5 May 14, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry passed the “Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013,” the Committee’s version of a new Farm Bill.

American Soybean Association (ASA) President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., called on the full Senate to pass the bill, and expressed ASA’s appreciation for the cooperative and bipartisan effort displayed by the Committee in crafting a bill that provides farmers with the certainty they need to continue producing enough food, feed, fiber, and biofuels to meet growing domestic and global demand.

“Led by Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran, the members of the Committee came together to pass a bill today that takes great strides toward enacting legislation we’ve all worked so hard on since the first hearing in 2010,” said Murphy.

“The Committee’s farm bill provides continued planting flexibility, reinforces crop insurance, protects our natural resources, authorizes and funds vital trade, research and education programs, and feeds our nation’s hungry, all while addressing our nation’s budget needs by reducing spending by $23 billion, including elimination of direct payments and duplication of conservation programs. This is a responsible bill and one that the Senate should pass without delay.”

Among the key provisions in the bill for ASA is the structure of the bill’s commodity programs in Title I.

In addition to the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program to protect against revenue losses, the Committee approved a price-based Adverse Market Program which sets reference (target) prices at a percentage of recent average prices and provides that support levels be updated annually.

“By agreeing to support a decoupled, market-oriented approach to price protection, the Committee has resolved a philosophical difference between farm groups on how to keep government farm programs from distorting planting decisions, and has united all major production regions behind one approach,” added Murphy.

“ASA recommended this approach in March in the interest of finding common ground on which we might move a new farm bill forward.

"Both Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Cochran deserve a great deal of credit for helping this process along, and ASA commends them for it.”

The Senate bill reauthorizes and funds numerous ASA priorities, including the Biodiesel Education Program, the Biobased Market Program, agricultural research initiatives, and the Foreign Market Development and Market Access Programs.

It also includes provisions that strengthen the crop insurance program, a top priority for ASA.

House Agriculture Committee Passes Farm Bill, ASA Calls on Full House to Bring Bill to the Floor

St. Louis—The American Soybean Association (ASA) applauds Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson and the members of the House Agriculture Committee for passing the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act May 15.

The bill, which passed the Committee on a 36 to 10 vote, will now head to the House floor for consideration.

ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., commended the Committee and called on the full House to pass the bill as quickly as possible.

“ASA is very pleased that the farm bill is moving forward, and we applaud Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson, as well as the entire Committee, for their work on the bill,” said Murphy.

“The House bill contains several key ASA priorities including provisions to strengthen crop insurance and continue our overseas marketing programs.

"We remain concerned with the bill’s inclusion of a price-based program under which payments are tied to current plantings, and the potential planting distortions this program could cause if market prices fall.

"That said, we believe these differences can be ironed out, either on the House floor or in conference with the Senate.”

Murphy noted that ASA was particularly pleased that Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) offered and spoke to an amendment that would have decoupled payments under the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program from current-year plantings in order to avoid production distortions.

Rep. Gibbs made clear in his remarks that the PLC program, as included in the draft Committee bill, could distort plantings during periods of low prices, and he argued that all crops should be supported at a consistent level, based on market prices.

In withdrawing his amendment, Rep. Gibbs made clear his intention to raise these issues again when the bill moves to the House floor.

“We appreciate Rep. Gibbs’ efforts to highlight the potential distortions that could result from a program based on target prices that are coupled to current-year plantings.

"The avoidance of such distortions has been a core ASA priority from the beginning, and we commend the Congressman for bringing up this concern during Committee markup.”

Rep. Gibbs was successful in including a second amendment that would require the Secretary of Agriculture to report annually on the impact of the PLC and Revenue Loss Coverage (RLC) programs on the planting, production, price, and export of commodities, as well as on the cost of these programs.

ASA supported this provision as a means for monitoring Title 1 programs, particularly if payments based on high support levels are tied to current-year production, which could distort planting decisions.

For more information, call 601-906-3809.

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