“I strongly urge that crop insurance not be weakened during this farm bill. In today’s environment of volatile prices and high input costs, effective risk management has never been more important.”

Flowers implored the Committee not to impose any further restrictions on payment eligibility including lower limits or income means tests in the 2012 farm bill saying “effective farm policy must maximize participation without regard to size or farm income.”

He reminded the Committee that the 2008 farm law contained significant changes with respect to payment limitations and payment eligibility – and included the most comprehensive and far-reaching reform to payment limitations in 20 years.

Flowers also noted that while he was a diversified producer, “it is important to note cotton production is the most significant economic driver in my area. It means jobs on the farm, in gins, warehouses and on through the production and processing cotton cycle.

“The spin-off impact on rural communities in the Delta and other regions for input suppliers, equipment dealers and others is also significant. Even a moderately — sized city such as Clarksdale, Miss., is very dependent upon agriculture. Therefore, a viable cotton farm policy is especially critical to our rural economy.”

Both producers also called for continued assistance for U.S. textile mills (introduced in the 2008 farm bill) along with adequately funded export promotion programs, including the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program, which are important in an export-dependent agricultural economy.

Chairman Lucas stated, ‪"As we visit with producers from different regions of the country, the overriding message we're hearing is just how important it is to provide a choice of policy options in the next farm bill. In order for our farmers to be successful and continue to provide the quality food and fiber that we all expect and enjoy, we need to give them the necessary tools to manage risk no matter what type of crop they're growing.”

Lucas said he recognized that even within commodities, different programs work better for different regions.

“That’s why it is vitally important that the Commodity Title give producers options so that they can choose the program that works best for them,” he said.

“I also am committed to providing a strong crop insurance program. Now, I know that crop insurance — while a valuable tool for many producers — doesn’t work as well for producers down here. That’s why offering an array of programs is important and why we must work with the Risk Management Agency to improve crop insurance products for rice, peanuts and other crops that do not have higher buy-up levels.”

The Committee’s next farm bill hearing is scheduled for Friday, April 20, at 9 am CDTin the Magouirk Conference Center in Dodge City, Kan..