“I have heard loud and clear that strong, effective risk management is the number one priority of farmers and producers across the country. Farming is a high risk business and we don’t want farmers and other small businesses going under because a few days of bad weather — it jeopardizes the economy and the safety of our national food supply.”

Crop insurance is also a concern for the American Soybean Association. While the ASA has called for “a shared responsibility for deficit reduction across all mandatory and discretionary spending programs, up to and including the elimination of Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payments as well as the Average Crop Revenue Election program” growers will soon plant a new crop and assume new risk, said ASA President Steve Wellman.

(See http://southeastfarmpress.com/soybeans/asa-now-not-time-reduce-crop-insurance-support).

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition deemed the budget proposal “not terribly interesting.” Ferd Hoefner, the NSAC’s policy director, said it “follows the emerging consensus to do away with direct payments but offers no alternative safety net proposal other than renewing a largely discredited and expensive farm disaster program. It also proposes an across-the-board two percent cut to farmers’ crop insurance premium subsidies. Both the commodity payment and crop insurance proposals fail to target the cuts, and thus their impact would be felt most heavily by small and medium-size farms. 

“Neither proposal addresses the critical issue of whether the public should be given assurances that natural resources are protected in return for their large investment in farm production subsidies. … Frankly, the proposals are relatively lame and not at all progressive. Clearly, all the heavy lifting is left to Congress.”

Agriculture has done more than its fair share in reducing the deficit, said Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union president. “Efforts to cut even more by slashing support for family farmers should be directed elsewhere. Earlier this year, the USDA announced the closing of 259 facilities across the country because of these draconian budget cuts. The ‘cut-first, ask questions later’ attitude in Congress is now showing its true costs.

“These budget cuts highlight a reality that we must look for new solutions within the agriculture industry to ensure that farmers and ranchers are protected even as the available funds diminish. Farmers need a safety net for difficult times -- when markets collapse and when disaster strikes.”

The nation’s farmers and ranchers “deserve a measure of certainty,” said Jon Scholl, president of American Farmland Trust (AFT). “Farmers require a safety net that works effectively, and they need access to tools that help them be good stewards of our natural resources. Those people less fortunate during these economic times deserve a helping hand so they don’t go hungry, while our nation as a whole needs the security which effective food policies and programs can bring.”

dbennett@farmpress.com