A panel of two farm organization advocates and two analysts of the farm program discussed crop insurance and commodity title provisions in the 2014 farm bill and prospects for the next bill on Tuesday at a Capitol Hill seminar entitled “U.S. Agricultural Risk Policy: Debating the Status Quo,” sponsored by the Charles Koch Institute.
Note: Jerry Hagstrom moderated the panel at the seminar.
The panel discussion reflected the ongoing battle within D.C. agricultural and conservative groups over the farm safety net.
Bob Young, the chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, explained that the crop insurance program had arisen out of dissatisfaction with the ad hoc disaster programs that Congress used to pass to address droughts and other disasters in farm country.
Joshua Tonsager, vice president of policy and communications for the National Association of Wheat Growers, noted that commodity prices are down compared with a few years ago and that farmers would be negatively affected by proposed cuts to farm programs.
Joe Glauber, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute and a former USDA chief economist, said that “crop insurance has been a huge success,” but that the real issue for the next farm bill is the budget.
Vincent Smith, a professor of economics at Montana State University, praised the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to farm programs, saying that big farmers are too rich to warrant taxpayer money being spent to subsidize them.
Glauber and Smith both supported the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate the harvest price option under which farmers can get paid for losses based on the price at harvest time, while Tonsager and Young defended that crop insurance provision.
Glauber said he believes that proposed payment limits and means tests for farm programs are too difficult to administer to be worthwhile.
Smith, whose university responsibilities include working with Native American farmers in Montana, said the farm bill should include more assistance for small and minority farmers and more educational opportunities for rural minority youth.
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