With the farm bill conference talks starting in earnest next week, groups are making another push to stress their positions or rally support to their cause. Thus, statements and letters are filling up the inbox this week.Wheat Growers Detail Priorities
The National Association of Wheat Growers wrote Thursday to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committee explaining NAWGs priorities for the farm bill. Underlined and in bold in that letter was "Do no harm to crop insurance." NAWG stated that its highest priority is to maintain a strong crop insurance system. With that, NAWG made it clear "we cannot support provisions in the Senate bill to link conservation compliance requirements to crop insurance." NAWG noted compliance is already required for commodity programs, disaster programs and loans.
"The provisions included in the Senate bill would establish a new compliance scheme including new compliance dates and mitigation timeframes, further complicating a system that is already overburdened with substantial backlogs."
Along with that, NAWG also opposes the means testing provision in the Senate for crop insurance premium subsidies. NAWG argues that means testing would dilute the pool of farmers who would participate in the program and thus increase costs for everyone.
NAWG also stated that the conference committee should ensure any reference price program doesn't distort the market or impact planting decisions.
For details on all of the NAWG priorities, go to http://dld.bz/…Backing Beginning Farmer Programs
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition sent out a statement highlighting letters from House and Senate members to farm-bill conferees to ensure the legislation invests in young and beginning farmers.
A dozen House members wrote the House Agriculture Committee chairman and ranking member touting a House provision that expanded credit for new farmers, including microloans, higher guarantee rates for conservation loans and priority for joint financing loans. The group also supported Senate language for the Transition Incentives Program within the Conservation Reserve Program, as well as giving priority within the Value-Added Producer grants program.
Fifteen senators also drafted a letter to their conferees supporting the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The senators asked conferees "to dedicate, at a minimum, $20 million per year over the next five years to this program." The senators also proposed a minimum $50 million in funding for the Transition Incentives Program.
Support for Energy Title
Energy programs in the farm bill could range from $243 million in the House bill to $1.1 billion in the Senate bill.
With that, 25X'25 is seeking support from congressmen for an Energy Title leaning more on the robust side of the ledger. The outstanding benefits of Energy Title programs also flow from a very modest investment.
Citing the jobs involved in energy programs, 25X'25 notes those programs accounted for only 0.7 percent of overall spending in the 2008 Farm Bill, yet those programs "create new opportunities for producers and rural communities to further cut input costs and diversify their income."
The letter goes on, "We recognize the fiscal challenges facing your committees as a new Farm Bill is completed this year. However, for all of the reasons noted above, we urge you to ensure the vital Energy Title programs are re-authorized and afforded significant mandatory funding over the life of the legislation. We believe the Senate’s bi-partisan investment must be preserved. Helping to grow the economy in these low-cost, but transformative ways will help ease the fiscal challenge in the years ahead while also addressing other critical national challenges."
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