Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow has released a new draft farm bill that would eliminate direct payments but increase risk management provisions while reducing farm program expenditures by $23 billion.
Stabenow is expected to present the 900-page chair’s mark, as it is called, to the full Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition later this week. The chairman has said she hopes to pass new farm legislation this summer.
The draft puts into language what many farm legislation observers have been predicting for months: Commodity producers would no longer receive direct payments for program crops whether they are growing those crops or not.
“Farmers will no longer be paid for crops they are not growing, will not be paid for acres that are not actually planted, and will not receive support absent a drop in price or yields,” the Stabenow draft legislation says.
The legislation would also consolidate two remaining farm programs into one and give farmers the ability to tailor risk management coverage meaning they would receive better protection against real risks beyond a farmer’s control.
“Farmers face unique risks unlike other businesses,” it said. “Weather and market conditions outside a producer’s control can have devastating effects. A risk management system that helps producers stay in business through a few bad seasons ensures that Americans always have access to a safe and plentiful food supply.”
By eliminating duplicative programs, the legislation will concentrate funds in the areas in which they will have the greatest impact. For example, the bill consolidates 23 existing conservation programs into 13 programs, while maintaining the existing tools farmers and landowners need to protect and conserve land, water and wildlife.
“At a time when many out-of-work Americans are in need for the first time in their lives, it is critical that every taxpayer dollar be spent responsibly and serves those truly struggling,” Stabenow said. “By closing loopholes, tightening standards, and requiring greater transparency, the proposal increases efficiency and improves effectiveness.”
The proposal also increases efficiency and accountability, saving tens of billions of dollars overall, while strengthening agricultural jobs initiatives by: