Ag Policy Blog

Heritage, Crop Insurance Professionals Lobby on Amendments

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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As debate heats up on the House floor about amendments to the farm bill, lobbying was aggressive Wednesday as groups pushed for key votes on farm-bill amendments or outright opposition to the entire farm bill.

Heritage Action, an arm of the Heritage Foundation, called the farm bill a key "no" vote. The group said he would target Republicans who vote for the farm bill. In particular, Heritage has been running ads against six Republicans and one Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee "to inform constituents 80% of the farm bill is actually food stamps.

Heritage later emailed out a statement highlighting some amendments the group backs. Among them, Heritage backs the amendment offered by Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., that would limit premium subsidies for crop insurance for producers making more than $250,000. The amendment also would limit the overall premium-subsidy cap to $50,000. Further, the amendment would make public names of people who receive crop-insurance premium subsidies. The Kind amendment also would put a 12% rate of return for crop insurers.

Heritage also backs an amendment that would eliminate the current federal sugar trade restrictions and price supports.

The Crop Insurance Professionals Association sent out an alert to members urging them to contact their congressmen's office today to oppose a list of amendments that would affect farm programs and crop insurance. The lobby push occurs as the House begins debate to cut both farm and nutritional programs.

Insurers obviously opposed the Kind amendment, saying the amendment would "force the nationalization of crop insurance, eliminating private sector delivery, and lead to costly, unbudgeted ad hoc disaster. It adds steep cuts to private sector delivery in the midst of record natural disasters and on top of $17 billion in cuts already sustained. By raising premiums and denying coverage to farmers and ranchers, it will reduce coverage levels and participation returning us to the days of huge ad-hoc disaster bills. It would invade farmer, company and agent privacy and compromise proprietary information by forcing disclosure of their insurance information on the web. This amendment is being offered by Rep. Kind at the behest of the Environmental Working Group. It is not meant to save money or make reforms. It is meant to destroy crop insurance and it will."

The insurers' group also opposes Rep. Jim McGovern's amendment to restore $20.5 billion in funding for food stamps by offsetting with cuts to crop insurance.

Further, the insurers oppose an amendment by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., that would cap commodity payments at $250,000 for any one farm and ensure farmers are actively engaged. The CIPA stated the amendment would create unintended consequences. "For example, there are going to be millions of elderly retirees who will be ineligible for the farm bill under this amendment because they are not 'actively engaged' in farming or ranching even though they share the financial risks of farming and ranching and help out where they can."

The CIPA also opposes the amendment by Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, and Kind that would set target prices at 55% of the five-year rolling Olympic average. This amendment would create a commodity program comparable to the target-price program in the Senate bill. The insurers' group stated this amendment "Effectively forces all farmers into one program that will not work in a drought, will not work if prices collapse, will undermine crop insurance, and will lead to calls for costly, unbudgeted ad-hoc disaster. This amendment will end up costing, not saving taxpayer money."

The full list of amendments up for debate can be found at http://majorityleader.gov/…

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

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