AFBF sets Farm Bill 2018 goals

With economic challenges facing agriculture, underscored by deeper concerns in some commodity sectors, the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors outlined the organization’s key objectives for the 2018 Farm Bill.

After its meeting in July in Washington, D.C., the AFBF board sent its goals and recommendations to leadership on the Senate and House agriculture committees in anticipation of the upcoming farm bill debate.

“While the Farm Bill does not expire until September 2018, there have been some conversations about the possibility of rewriting a farm bill toward the end of 2017 as part of a larger federal budget reform,” said Jack Irvin, OFBF senior director, state and national policy. “In light of this possibility, the AFBF board chose to move forward with some suggested ideas for inclusion. If a Farm Bill rewrite does move forward, we would have a seat at the table for those discussions and we support that effort.”

As outlined in the letter, Farm Bureau’s goals for the next farm bill are to protect current farm bill spending; maintain a unified farm bill that includes nutrition programs and farm programs together; ensure any changes to current farm legislation be an amendment to the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 or the Agricultural Act of 1949; prioritize our top funding concerns (risk management tools, which include both federal crop insurance and Title I commodity programs); and
ensure programs are compliant with World Trade Organization agreements.

The AFBF board also presented the following farm policy recommendations based on these goals:

1. Allow farmers to select the “higher of” the five-year Olympic Average yield for the Agriculture Risk Coverage County Program or a simple 10-year average yield.

2. Increase the reference price used as a floor for the ARC-CO program by 5 percent for corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum and other minor crops.

3. Support a cotton lint program and/or designating cotton seed as an “other oilseed” to make cotton eligible for Title 1 commodity support programs.

4. Improve the Dairy Margin Protection Program by supporting a package that contains the following provisions: a) a two-tiered approach to providing a safety net for dairy by continuing to treat production of 4 million pounds of milk covered annually differently than more than 4 million pounds of production; b) increase the administrative fee from $100 to $300 for catastrophic level of protection; c) reduce premium rates 25 percent from the current rate for the first 4 million pounds of production history covered and increase premium rates 25 percent from the current rate for coverage above 4 million pounds; d) lower the maximum coverage level from $8.00 to $7.00; e) raise the catastrophic level from $4.00 to $4.50; and f) increase the feed ration formula for all producers by 10 percent.

5. Increase the $20 million annual cap on livestock insurance products to $75 million annually.

Photo caption: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) addresses Farm Bureau presidents from across the country prior to the American Farm Bureau Federation board meeting in July. Portman was speaking to Farm Bureau leaders about the need for regulatory reform.