BigNews.Biz - Jan 19,2012 - Conrad Working Group Focuses on Potential Changes to National Ag Policy
Senator Unveils Proposal to Provide a New Form of Revenue Assistance to Farmers
Bismarck – Senator Kent Conrad convened members of his North Dakota Agriculture Advisory Committee for a work session focused on overcoming challenges in the development of a new Farm Bill.
"When Congress reconvenes next week, we will be debating an array of deficit reduction proposals. Undeservedly, ag programs will have a large target on their backs," Senator Conrad said. "Members of Congress — especially those in the House — will be looking to slash farm programs. We're going to need to fight to maintain those programs that are effective and improve the safety net in a new Farm Bill."
Senator Conrad — a senior member of the Agriculture Committee – noted that total agriculture spending for farm bill programs represents a small sliver of the federal budget. However, he said agriculture will be required to make a significant contribution to correcting the nation's fiscal situation.
When asked about the potential for writing a new Farm Bill this year, the Senator said it is possible that the current Farm Bill is extended for at least one year and thedevelopment of new legislation is put off until 2013. He warned however, that the fiscal and political climate might only be worse in 2013, again limiting a new bill. Senator Conrad said he preferred to try to develop a new Farm Bill this year and committed to doing all he can to maintain a farm safety net that works for North Dakota producers.
The Senator also unveiled plans to introduce legislation in the near future to provide a new form of revenue assistance to farmers. The Senator's shallow loss revenue proposal combines ACRE and SURE into one streamlined program. The new program is designed to be easier to understand and administer than the current crop insurance program. It will also make payments in a much more timely manner, which has been a complaint of ACRE and SURE.
"My new program will complement crop insurance by providing some protection from shallow losses that crop insurance typically does not cover. And it will provide protection against multi-year price declines that crop insurance does not protect against," Senator Conrad told the ag leaders.
The latest statistics show that North Dakota leads the nation in the production of 15 different crops, with $7.3 billion in agriculture production from 32,000 farms. North Dakota receives more per capita from agriculture programs in the Farm Bill than any other state.