Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Farm Bill

As I mentioned yesterday, Joe Schultz from the Senate Ag Committee brought us up to date on Farm Bill negotiations at the Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium.

He quickly pointed out the $50 Billion a year cut from the USDA Budget would be $33 Billion which would eliminate Direct Payments to farmers and $17 Billion to Conservation which would cut it in half.

That would completely change funding of agriculture as we know it. Are we ready for that? Most of the farmers say yes I read on NewAgTalk but when you talk to them one on one it's a different story.

The whole program was designed for Risk Management and it has done that. Many claim they could not farm the next year without risk management tools and the crop insurance they received, especially in these years of extreme drought and flood the same year across our nation.

Joe praised the bipartisan support of agriculture committee negotiations and said they were the only ones to do so in Washington. Once again the good people representing agriculture are willing to do the best thing for the country.

They came up with $23 Billion in cuts over 10 years which makes more sense. He warned it needs to be done NOW and not become hung up and watered down by dragging negotiations out. That makes sense to me.

Risk management varies so much from farm to farm and state to state. I have stated here that since 2004 I have received less than ten cents directly for every dollar spent on crop insurance. I see why John Phipps continually says we don't need direct payments in agriculture and why a few farmers don't even use crop insurance as a risk management tool. These farmers have more control in other places of their own farm budget.

Joe says key words and concepts are risk management in the Farm Bill, production cost has followed commodity prices directly and we are going through huge variations of weather contributing to unpredictability and the need for risk management.

EWG posts our payments from USDA on their website and we are attacked for our past and current risk management program. The key to keeping it is keeping the budget defendable to the general public(does the public have any idea?), keep it simple(it isn't simple), and keeping Crop Insurance the foundation of the farm safety net.

It looks to me we are about to lose direct payments and and many good agriculture programs. On the other hand they are expensive and haven't done the good for every recipient that perhaps they were intended to do.

I see I can farm without direct payments or even crop insurance as we know it and may have to. Farming will not look the same in 10 years if this happens.

I don't think it was going to anyhow but this really changes the playing field.


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