The NCC has issued a statement saying it strongly opposes amendments to the FY12 Agriculture Appropriations bill that (1) rewrite provisions of the 2008 farm bill and (2) violate a government-to-government agreement established between the United States and Brazil.

NCC Chairman Charles Parker said the Appropriations Committee’s actions circumvent the thoughtful and deliberate process initiated by the agriculture committees that authorize the comprehensive multi-year farm legislation.

“As the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are beginning the process of developing the successor legislation to the 2008 farm law, the House Appropriations Committee has undertaken a misguided approach to farm policy,” Parker said.

“It is unfortunate that Representative Flake’s amendment will divert funds from the most trade compliant provision in the farm safety net and also squarely places the burden of the dispute on upland cotton programs, even though export credit programs account for 80 percent of Brazil’s retaliation authority,” Parker said. “Representative DeLauro’s amendment goes a step further by diverting the funds away from the Brazil Cotton Institute, and thus violating the government-to-government agreement.

“Actions by the Appropriations Committee have violated the Framework Agreement that had already established a clear path to resolving the on-going WTO trade dispute. Provisions in the Framework establish principles that will likely mean substantive changes to upland cotton programs as part of the 2012 farm bill. The U.S. and Brazilian governments negotiated a detailed process that will resolve the trade dispute and Congress should let that process come to fruition.”

Parker also expressed disappointment regarding Congressman Flake’s amendment to reduce the income means test for farm program eligibility.

“By lowering the adjusted gross income (AGI) test to $250,000, the Appropriations Committee has introduced a major change that cuts across all of production agriculture,” Parker added.

“In the 2008 farm bill, Congress went through a lengthy debate before imposing tighter eligibility requirements. It is anticipated that the Agriculture Committees will debate eligibility provisions in the next farm bill. Any debate or changes to those provisions should only be done by the authorizing committees as part of the next farm bill.”

The NCC will work with the leaders of the House Agriculture and Appropriations Committees in an effort to reverse these misguided and counter-productive amendments.