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Thoughts on a new farm bill

Agriculture.com Staff 02/09/2007 @ 12:33pm

As we move into 2007, debate will heat up on the prospects for a new farm bill. Everyone may have an opinion on what they think it should be like, but in the end it could be totally different than most expect. On the other hand, there is a general consensus the farm bill will look much like the present one. We have some thoughts.

The problem we see with the current farm bill is that it doesn't provide what is most needed. That is, a safety net for producers. In fact, we feel it puts more producers at risk. In addition, with the benefit of hindsight, the current bill does appear to favor corn and soybean producers in the southern portions of the Midwest.

As for a safety net, if a farmer makes a mistake taking an LDP, it could prove very costly. We don't view that as much of a safety net. We like the idea of utilizing some sort of historical revenue flow or yield as a base for a farmer's revenue floor. As for timing of LDP, we believe farmers should be able to begin securing LDP sometime during the summer, not after he's harvested the crop, which is how the current program is structured. Our argument is that a farmer purchases insurance based on APH (Actual Production History.) Our question: Why can't a farmer secure an LDP based on production history? A farmer wouldn't necessarily be able to claim LDP on 100 percent of expected production, but certainly somewhere in line with insurance-type levels of 65 to 85 percent. If a farmer took more LDP than he actually harvested, he would then need to pay this back.

History suggests many of the larger LDPs are at the early onset of harvest and that, by the time northern farmers get into the field, much of the LDP is gone or has gone positive. He is not only fighting late fall weather, but also declining LDP.

While no farm bill will likely prove perfect, the current farm bill needs to be enhanced or changed in order to provide a better financial safety net for the agricultural community so that a flow of food is available to the U.S. and world. With a tight grain supply and high prices, the passion to debate a new farm bill probably won't be as strong. Nonetheless, we encourage farmers to voice their opinion on what they believe is needed to provide a better safety net for themselves and their communities to help feed the world.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Top Farmer at 1-800-TOP-FARM, ext. 129.

As we move into 2007, debate will heat up on the prospects for a new farm bill. Everyone may have an opinion on what they think it should be like, but in the end it could be totally different than most expect. On the other hand, there is a general consensus the farm bill will look much like the present one. We have some thoughts.

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