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More groups back commodity program choices

DANIEL LOOKER 05/17/2012 @ 11:32am Business Editor

Members of several farm groups told a House Agriculture subcommittee Thursday that they support giving producers choices of commodity programs in the next farm bill, instead of the approach taken by the Senate Agriculture Committee to rely mainly on a shallow loss revenue programs.

Eric Younggren, a Hallock, Minnesota farmer who is president of the National Association of Wheat Growers told the committee that his group supports a revenue program modeled after the 2008 Farm Bill’s ACRE and SURE progams. But when asked by Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) if his group supports other options, Younggren said the Wheat Growers recognized that other parts of the country have different needs.

American Soybean Association president Steve Wellman of Syracuse, Nebraska, said that after two years of developing policy with soybean farmers across the country, his group decided to back a revenue program in the 2012 farm bill. The group supports the Senate committee’s new Agriculture Risk Coverage program. But he, too, told the committee that his group does not oppose other programs as long as they don’t distort farmers’ planting decisions.

Armond Morris, an Irwinville, Georgia farmer who chairs the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation told the committee that the Senate bill’s ARC program would not protect peanut growers, according to University of Georgia analysis. 

His group favors giving peanut farmers a choice between the revenue program and a countercyclical program with a target price of $534 a ton (about half of estimates of current production costs). The Senate bill ends the countercyclical program. 

Roger Johnson, president of National Farmers Union, said his group would favor either a countercyclical program or its own proposal for a voluntary farmer-owned reserve that would not be tied to base acres. The cost of the NFU program, which it calls a Market-Driven Inventory System, would be less than a countercyclical program, he said, because the federal government would pay less for storage payments under the MDIS system. MIDIS would raise market prices. 

Johnson said that his group, like all of the others, is a strong supporter of the crop insurance program, but that alone does not protect farmers from an economic crisis.

“Crop insurance alone cannot protect against multiyear price collapse,” he said.  

The submitted testimony those appearing before the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management can be found here.

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