Prior to a May 14 mark-up of a new farm bill, the Senate Agriculture Committee released a draft of the legislation. (Read the draft at http://www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill.)

Included in the draft are target prices for rice ($13.30 per hundredweight) and peanuts ($523.77 per ton) and the Agricultural Risk Coverage program favored by corn producers.

Among reactions:

National Association of Wheat Growers

“We commend the committee for producing a bill that will provide wheat farmers with a strong safety net through Title I programs and crop insurance and that addresses important provisions with regards to conservation, research, food aid, marketing and nutrition,” said NAWG president Bing Von Bergen, a wheat farmer from Moccasin, Mont.

“The bill would also reduce our country’s deficit by roughly $23 billion over 10 years while supporting millions of jobs throughout the economy.

“NAWG believes it is vital for wheat farmers and our economy to finish a long-term farm bill this year, before the existing farm bill extension expires. We look forward to working with committee members as they prepare for their mark-up next week and urge quick consideration of the (agriculture) committee’s product on the Senate floor.”

American Soybean Association

“Importantly, the draft released by the committee would protect and strengthen crop insurance as well as ensure that a target price program to protect growers from low prices remains decoupled from current planting decisions, thus avoiding the possibility of production distortions,” said ASA president and Canton, Miss., soybean farmer Danny Murphy.

“Combined with a revenue protection program similar to that included in last year’s Senate bill, the proposed legislation takes significant steps to provide farmers with effective risk management programs while protecting planting flexibility and avoiding planting distortions.

“While ASA is still studying details of the 1,102-page bill, our initial review also notes that the draft reflects other ASA priorities including reauthorization and funding of the Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program and Market Access Program, funding for conservation programs applied to working lands, reauthorization and funding for important bio-based and bioenergy programs, and support for agricultural research, to name just a few.”

National Farmers Union

“We are pleased to see that target price protection was added to the bill,” said NFU president Roger Johnson. “However, in order to be substantial, target prices need to be increased and balanced in a meaningful way. We urge the inclusion of stronger protection against long-term price collapse for all commodities in all regions. It is also promising that some important programs left out of the one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill, like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, have been reauthorized and funded.

“Crop insurance remains a strong part of the safety net to help producers survive difficult times. In the bipartisan, collaborative style typical of the agriculture community, a compromise was reached to link conservation compliance requirements to crop insurance, which was strongly supported across the industry.

“We are encouraged that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) remains virtually unchanged from last year’s bill in both program and funding. It is crucial that we continue to provide a safety net to those who are food insecure in our own country.

CRP acreage cap gradually reduced

“In the mark, the Conservation Reserve Program acreage cap is gradually reduced from 30 million acres to 25 million acres due to budget constraints, and the conservation title remains essentially the same from last year’s Senate farm bill.

“NFU is very pleased to see a strong energy title that includes $800 million in mandatory funding for programs such as the Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biobased Markets Program and Biorefinery Assistance Program.

“Following conversations with (Oklahoma Rep. Frank) Lucas, we expect the House Committee on Agriculture to follow suit very soon and are pleased to see movement in both chambers because Sept. 30, 2013, is rapidly approaching.”

National Milk Producers Federation

“We are pleased that the dairy title of the farm bill released by the Senate Agriculture Committee contains the Dairy Security Act (DSA), just as it was included in last year’s Senate farm bill,” said Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of NMPF. “The DSA is the best approach for providing a cost-effective safety net for dairy farmers. … The DSA provides the right combination of effective risk management for dairy farmers while minimizing program costs to the taxpayer.

“NMPF is part of a coalition … that has been working since 2009 on replacing outdated dairy programs that don’t work, with a new safety net that reflects that realities of dairy farming in (this) century. Dairy farmers throughout the U.S. support the proposal that the Agriculture Committee will be reviewing next week, and urge members of the committee — and their counterparts in the House Agriculture Committee, which will also review the DSA next week — to pass this critical legislation.”

Among critics of the draft is Oxfam America.

“Leaders of the Senate Agriculture committee must respond to growing momentum for food aid reform to increase the effectiveness of the program and save more lives,” said Eric Munoz, policy advisor for Oxfam America.

“While retaining the modest proposal from last year’s version to cut waste and modernize America’s international food aid programs, the bill fails to rise to the opportunity of wider reform, as proposed by President Obama in his budget request.

“Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee must seize the opportunity presented by this unique moment to adopt real reform to improve the effectiveness of food aid.

“The rest of the farm bill leaves a lot to be desired. Our elected members of Congress should do more to make our farm bill serve a diverse, fair, and resilient global agriculture system, not just respond to a handful of entrenched interests.”

dbennett@farmpress.com