House agriculture subcommittee examines agricultural safety net issues • Farm Policy News

The House Ag Subcommittee on General Agricultural Products and Risk Management on Wednesday discussed the Farm Bill, Crop Insurance and Ad Hoc Disaster Programs at a meeting titled: “A hearing to examine the effectiveness of the agricultural safety net. “Witnesses at Wednesday’s hearing included Jeff Kirwan, farmer from Illinois, as good as Gary Schnitkey from farmdoc.

Ranking member of the subcommittee Austin scott (R., Ga.) Noted in his opening remarks that “This committee should play a greater role in policy making, therefore tomorrow’s disasters leave less impact on our producers and create less risk for our food supply chain.

“Without a doubt, it’s hard to find a quick fix to address all of the issues facing our agriculture industry.

Representative Scott added: “As we review the effectiveness of the safety net and begin to consider future changes, our primary goal should be not to harm existing programs and make sure that any improvement benefits all productive agriculture, not just parts of the country or specific causes of loss. “

And full member of the ranking of the agricultural committee Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R., Pennsylvania) indicated wednesday that “that it is a natural disaster who can destroy a crop at any time, a foreign government that interferes with a market, or pandemic that disrupts the entire supply chain – producers are in a constant battle to remain viable. Therefore, a strong safety net is an essential element in rebuilding a strong rural economy. “

Representative Thompson described his guiding principles for disaster programs during the hearing, including:

  • The program should complement rather than compete with crop insurance;
  • The program should be easy to implement and;
  • The program must be reliable and respond quickly to disasters.

Regarding the prospect of witnesses at Wednesday’s meeting, in prepared remarks, farmer from Illinois Jeff Kirwan explained that, “Crop insurance is the cornerstone of my operation.

Our ability to market our grain, manage risk and survive financially depends on crop insurance. Hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in a growing crop can be wiped out in a single weather event.

“And there are broader impacts on the agricultural economy. With what farmers spend on farm inputs, machinery, equipment and crop protection, we need to be successful for the whole industry. That is why crop insurance is so critical. “

Mr. Kirwan added: “In addition to crop insurance, looking at the recent past, if it was CFAP, WHIP +, or Market Facilitation Program Payments, the timely emergency assistance that you and the USDA have provided permit farmers like me to meet each of these challenges, pay our bills and keep producing.

“Typically, most farm program payments are allowed under Farm Bill programs. However, since 2018, the USDA has implemented several ad hoc payment programs in response to the impact on the U.S. agricultural sector of trade retaliation and the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Payments under ad hoc programs are expected to decline significantly in 2021 as market and trade conditions improve. (“US Farm Income Outlook: February 2021 Forecast,” by Randy Schnepf and Stephanie Rosch. Congressional Research Service (February 24, 2021)).

“Through it all, the agricultural safety net … ARC-PLC – also played a role in keeping farmers afloat. But in the absence of ad hoc disaster assistance, there is no doubt that these programs – and the payment schedule – were simply not designed to cope with extraordinary economic and weather disasters.. There needs to be a review of those programs, and farm organizations need to be part of that conversation.

And farmdoc’s Gary Schnitkey highlighted that, “We hope the worst trade disputes and COVID control measures are behind us. Yet the rationale for MFP and CFAP programs may have exposed weaknesses in the existing commodity title programs. “

Dr Schnitkey noted that “many commodities have had higher prices since the end of summer 2020 and incomes look good in 2021. This more robust outlook differs from what many – including myself – would have expected. last year at this time, illustrating how situations can suddenly change in agriculture.

“The committee’s assessment of the effectiveness of the programs is timely, as the safety net will come into play in the future.