Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Farm Bill lobbies reject means testing for crop insurance, but adopt conservation compliance

One week after the Environmental Working Group released a study concluding that taxpayers overpaid nearly $7 billion to farmers for crop insurance, more than 30 agriculture, conservation and wildlife groups have come together to insure the proposed Farm Bill allows them to continue receiving crop-insurance benefits.

The groups want to remove language from an amendment to reduce premium subsidies by 15 percent for farmers who earn more than $750,000 in adjusted gross income, reports Chris Clayton for DTN/The Progressive Farmer. The amendment would affect only 1,500 farm operations and is estimated to save around $1.2 billion over 10 years.

"In return for getting rid of means testing for crop insurance, the agricultural groups agreed to a plan that would tie conservation compliance to crop insurance with stipulations involved," reports Clayton. The groups stated in a letter, "In the spirit of compromise and in the interest of completing a 2013 Farm bill this year, each of the groups has committed not to support amendments beyond this compromise that might weaken the crop insurance program or amendment that might not link conservation compliance with crop insurance premium assistance." The groups also state they are not willing to make any changes to their proposal. (Read more)

UPDATE, May 9: "House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas is opposed to the agreement," Clayton reports. Lucas said he has a philosophical problem with various lobby groups "tying strings to how farmers farm" and dictating terms to producers when the farm bill is supposed to be about raising food and fiber. . . . Lucas said he is concerned about provisions such as the compliance agreement that would possibly reduce farm production right now." 

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