This week the House Agriculture Committee passed the 2012 Farm Bill by a vote of 35-11. The bill saves more than $35 billion in mandatory funding. That’s an increase in savings of $12 billion over the Senate version, which earlier had passed with the support of Ohio Farm Bureau and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.
Under the House bill, farmers may choose between two specific farm programs that are designed to compliment crop insurance, according to the House Agriculture Committee.
The new Price Loss Coverage (PLC) which is a modified target price program, addresses multiple year deep price declines while the Revenue Loss Coverage (RLC) addresses revenue loss.
RLC is similar to the Agricultural Risk Coverage program proposed by the Senate but requires a producer to experience at least a 15 percent loss and is offered only on a county-wide basis.
Ohio Farm Bureau feels strongly that a farm bill is needed and while it does not support the continuation of target prices, there are many important programs included in the bill and its movement is critical.
- The House bill creates a new voluntary risk management safety net for dairy farmers that will include both a basic margin protection program and a supply management system. Farm Bureau will continue to work on this section as the legislation moves forward.
- There is no cut to crop insurance and the bill authorizes an area-wide group risk policy for losses not covered by individual crop insurance policies.
- The bill streamlines and consolidates 23 Conservation programs into 13.
- The bill increases funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program which supports research, product quality enhancements and food safety.
- The Horticulture Title includes H.R. 872, introduced by Reps. Bob Gibbs and Jean Schmidt, which eliminates a costly and duplicative permitting requirement for pesticide applications. Farm Bureau strongly supports this provision.
- The Nutrition Title of the House Farm Bill saves over $16 billion by closing loopholes and cracking down on waste. It expands the Seniors’ program to low-income families so that both may use coupons at eligible farmers’ markets. It also funds several programs that encourage the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
At this time it is not known when or if the Farm Bill will be taken up by the entire House for consideration. Farm Bureau will continue to push for passage before the September expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill. Ohio Farm Bureau encourages members to contact your congressman and tell them that a Farm Bill is needed this year.