In farm bill recommendations sent to Congress Sept. 29, the American Farm Bureau Federation said that continuing most current farm programs is the best way to ensure a farm safety net that works for all commodities and regions of the country.

The Farm Bureau recommendations include maintaining all current commodity programs, including direct payments, crop insurance, ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Election), target prices, and marketing loan programs.

Farm Bureau is willing to consider modifications and adjustments to these programs to make them more effective in a reduced budget environment.

AFBF acknowledged that funding reductions will have to be made and recommended spreading them out by making 30 percent of the necessary cuts in each of three program areas: commodity programs, conservation and nutrition, with 10 percent of the cuts in crop insurance funding.

Those four areas make up 99 percent of the funding authorized in the farm bill.

AFBF noted, however, its recommended cuts in nutrition program funding could be made through administrative rather than program benefit cuts.

AFBF recommended apportioning the commodity program cuts in a way that provides 94 percent of the reductions from reduced outlays for direct payments, 5 percent from the ACRE program and 1 percent from the dairy program.

Because the research and rural development titles already are small parts of the farm bill budget and high priorities for Farm Bureau, AFBF recommends that those programs be maintained at current funding levels.

Other programs in the 2008 farm bill should receive minor funding reductions to move toward a more balanced budget, AFBF said.

While the new farm bill normally would not be written until next year, this fall’s push for budget cuts means that major farm policy decisions will come sooner rather than later.

The Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction or “super committee” is charged with coming up with at least $1.2 trillion in budget cuts this fall.

About $10-$40 billion of the cuts are expected to come from farm bill programs, cuts that would be deep enough to result in a de facto rewriting of the farm bill this year.