What is in this article?:
• Southwest commodity spokesmen agree that they want a farm bill passed now.
• Good crop insurance is a top priority.
• House bill preferred over Senate’s.
He supports ethanol. “We have a long history of biofuels in Minnesota. It has been a boost for our rural economies. More than 40 percent of our corn is exported out of the state.”
Water quality, more than quantity, is an issue for Minnesota farmers, he said. The industry is working on water quality research to develop science-based numbers for runoff that “may differ from EPA.”
Texas Farm Bureau “wants to get a farm bill passed,” says Pringle. “We want a five-year bill this year, but we recognize that we will need an extension of the current law for at least a year while they write regulations for a new one. We are not interested in going through this process again next year.”
Vaughan said the concept of price protection is at risk with new policy. “The 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act included price protection because of the market loss after World War I and the ongoing economic chaos (Great Depression). We kept price protection until 1996 when we got the Freedom to Farm Act, which a lot of folks referred to as ‘Freedom to Fail.’”
Conditions now may be similar to 1996 with the high commodity prices and budget hawks. “We have a massive deficit and incentives to cut budgets.”
High commodity prices, he said, may tempt legislators to assume that those prices will be sustained. “We hear complaints about the need for a farm bill and price protection.”
Of the two proposals, Senate and House, he, and others on the panel, say the House version offers the best options, including price loss coverage and a larger payment limitation, $125,000 per individual in the House compared to $50,000 in the Senate version.
The Senate bill also uses a five-year Olympic average that “could cause serious trouble,” Vaughan said, “and would not provide much protection.
“Price risk,” he said, “is our major risk. Crop insurance is adequate to cover production risk. The House bill provides the tools we need. Ad hoc (disaster relief spending) is not likely.”
Wilson says beef prefers not to have a livestock title in the next farm bill. “Historically, that (a livestock title) has been a problem.”
Drought, which has continued for three or four years in the Southwest, has been hard on the beef industry. “The 2011 drought was a killer blow to the Southwest. Now, the drought in the Midwest is affecting the Southwest feed industry.”
Demand has remained “okay, but shrinking production is troubling. We’re just waiting for moisture and the ability to rebuild the herd.”