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American Farm Bureau makes recommendations on farm bill spending

Published Oct. 12, 2011 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Buckeye Farm News

As a special committee of federal lawmakers develops a proposal to reduce deficit spending, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) has submitted its recommendations to preserve an adequate safety net for farmers.

The legislative “super committee” was appointed as part of a compromise to raise the U.S. debt ceiling in August and is charged with saving the federal government at least $1.2 trillion by 2021. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is a member of the committee.

“Farm Bureau supports balancing the federal budget and reducing debt,” said Adam Sharp, OFBF senior director of national and regulatory policy. “In that regard, we’re willing to do our fair share, but we don’t want to be disproportionately cut.”

American Farm Bureau is asking Congress to spread cuts across key farm bill program areas. The organization’s proposal represents a balance of multiple commodity and regional interests.

AFBF is expecting most cuts to be targeted at commodity, conservation, nutrition and crop insurance programs as those four areas comprise 99 percent of farm bill funding.

Under AFBF’s proposal, commodity programs, conservation programs and nutrition programs would each represent a 30 percent share of the overall amount that is cut. The remaining 10 percent of the cuts would come from the crop insurance program.

Details of AFBF's recommendations:

  • 94 percent of the cuts to the commodity program should come from direct payments, 5 percent should come from ACRE and 1 percent from dairy.
  • Cuts in nutrition program funding could be made through administrative rather than program benefit cuts.
  • Conservation programs should be consolidated. 
  • The number of acres eligible for the Conservation Reserve Program should be reduced to capture savings. 
  • The Conservation Stewardship Program should be capped and represent one-third of the cuts made to conservation. 
  • No reduction should be made to the EQIP program.
  • Cuts to the crop insurance program should be garnered from administrative and operating expenses.

Distribution of farm bill cuts

While lawmakers have yet to say how much money they will cut from farm programs, AFBF is recommending that the amount be spread across programs in this proportion:

To put its proposal into context, AFBF cited the president’s plan to cut agricultural programs by $33 billion. Farm Bureau said it adamantly opposes reductions of that magnitude. However, using the $33 billion figure as an example, AFBF's proposed distribution of cuts would mean a 15 percent reduction from the $65 billion commodity programs baseline, 16 percent from the $63 billion conservation programs baseline, 1 percent from the $700 billion nutrition programs baseline and 4 percent from the $80 billion crop insurance baseline.

PARTICIPATE IN THE OHIO FARM BUREAU 2012 FARM BILL SURVEY

As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (known in the media as “The Super Committee”) and the rest of Congress begin serious debate about the future of U.S. farm policy and what the next farm bill will look like, the Ohio Farm Bureau is providing you with useful resource materials and also is asking for your input on an informal survey of Ohio Farm Bureau members’ farm bill interests.

The survey must be returned by Oct. 28.

The resource materials include:

  • Farm Bill 2011—Talking Points” that contains a number of suggestions for your use in discussing the farm bill with friends, neighbors, the media and policymakers

The survey sheet will complement Farm Bureau’s extensive existing policy on the farm bill established through our grassroots policy development program. This survey will collect more specific information allowing OFBF staff to provide more detailed input into ongoing farm bill policy discussion on Capitol Hill.  We also plan to compile all responses to this survey in a report that will be submitted to the OFBF Policy Development Committee and Ohio Farm Bureau Board of Trustees.

Please review the resources and complete and return your farm bill survey by Oct. 28.  If you have any questions about the information being distributed or the survey, please do not hesitate to contact Adam Sharp via email,  or call 614-306-7469.



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