NAWG President Wayne Hurst wrote leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees this week to outline wheat growers’ farm policy priorities as final proposals come together for super committee consideration.
Principals at both committees are reportedly working toward a legislative proposal to send early next week to super committee members, who are charged with finding $1.5 trillion in federal spending to cut.
Last week, Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senate Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and House Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) wrote the 12 committee members, saying agriculture-area programs should take no more than $23 billion in cuts through the ongoing debt-reduction process. Those cuts would come on top of more than $40 billion in cuts in recent years to crop insurance, nutrition and other programs.
In his letter, Hurst identified crop insurance as NAWG’s top priority, saying NAWG strongly opposes any reductions to the baseline available for crop insurance programs.
Hurst reiterated NAWG’s long-standing support for the direct payment program even while acknowledging it has lost public support. He said NAWG believes a phase-down of the direct payment, perhaps over as few as three years, would allow farmers, their landlords and lenders and rural economies to adjust.
Hurst also outlined preferred triggers for the development of a target price component to cushion farmer businesses in disastrous price decline situations.
Outside of Title I programs, Hurst’s letter voiced strong support for market development and agriculture research programs, including for the authorization of a cereal research initiative for wheat, barley and oats, incorporating mandatory and discretionary funding.
The letter also addressed conservation programs, where the Association believes leaders can find room for consolidation and increased efficiency.
The letter sent this week formalized positions taken by NAWG policy committees and the NAWG Board since the last formal Board meeting in March. It also reflected conversations Hurst and other NAWG officers and staff have had with agriculture leaders on Capitol Hill in recent weeks.
While the super committee’s report to Congress isn’t due until Nov. 23, the Congressional Budget Office needs proposals by Nov. 1 for its staff to have sufficient time to evaluate them properly.
In a letter sent last week, Ag Committee leaders committed to “provide a complete legislative package” by Nov. 1, which is Tuesday, though it is not yet clear what that package will entail.
NAWG’s full letter sent this week is available online at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/farmbill-letter-on-ag-policy-deficit-reduction-20111025.pdf.