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On April 20, Chairman Frank Lucas wrapped up the House Agriculture Committee's field hearing series in Dodge City, Kansas. It was the final hearing that was held across the country to listen directly to producers on the ground and gather input in advance of writing the 2012 Farm Bill.
Members heard from producers of a variety of commodities and beef about the tools they need to continue to produce a safe and affordable food and fiber supply. Witnesses explained that one of the goals of the Farm Bill should be to provide opportunities for effective risk management for all of agriculture.
“As the witnesses explained today, agriculture is one of the few bright spots in America’s economy and yet still has room to grow. However, agricultural prosperity faces dangers that are both real and present. Overregulation from Washington directly threatens not only the continuity of our family farms, but also the existence of our way of life in rural America. Our farmers need to be freed from the regulatory grips of eager bureaucrats.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp
“I would like to reiterate that crop insurance is critical. I believe that the commodity title should be as simple as possible and bankable. If there ends up being several different complex proposals, then I would hope that I have the flexibility to choose based upon my own operation.”
Corn, wheat, milo, soybean and cow calf producer
Dodge City, Kansas
“There is one particular aspect of your work that I want to especially thank you for and encourage you in, and that is your focus on price protection. Plain and simple, a collapse in commodity prices is what keeps me up at night, and that is the risk I think this farm bill should address. Happily, this approach is also the most cost efficient. If Washington is truly serious about saving taxpayer dollars and about less government intervention, price-based protection in a Farm Bill, as a compliment to crop insurance, is the way to do it.”
Corn, cotton, sorghum, soybean and wheat producer
“I also strongly oppose applying payment limitations and means testing to crop insurance. The agricultural economy has driven many producers to become larger to spread risk and investment in equipment. A farmer producing crops on 1,000 acres of cropland has to have adequate capital invested to efficiently farm these acres.
"A partnership or family corporation that has gone together and is producing crops on 10,000 acres has the same risk per acre as the smaller producer. Why would we penalize the larger producer by restricting the amount of protection they would be allowed? We need to change our mindset to a per acre basis, not a per operator basis.”
Wheat, sorghum, canola, alfalfa and cow calf producer
“Crop insurance may be our best tool but it is not a perfect product. Any crop insurance product needs to have plugs to fill the multiple years of low yields that can and will occur in this part of the country. One suggestion I have heard is to have better methodology to the formation of average production history. County T-yields are helpful but sometimes don't reflect what a producer and his lender would expect to produce in any given year. The closer to the individual farm those expectations can be formulated the better.”
Wheat, soybean, corn, sorghum, alfalfa and cow calf producer
Little River, Kansas
“With respect to production agriculture, I strongly encourage this committee to take into consideration the diversity of production practices, cost structures and risk profiles. What works for my operation isn’t going to be the same as farmers in California, North Dakota or Iowa. A one-size-fits-all farm program cannot address this diversity, and I hope that the eventual farm bill will offer a range of programs structured to address the needs of the different commodities and production regions.”
Cotton and wheat producer
Colorado City, Texas
“Like many operations, we have aggressively implemented technology on our farm. It seems only natural to continue to encourage the implementation of technology at FSA and RMA as well as on the farm allowing greatly improved accuracy in reporting and eventually adding the potential for real time data collection. We believe the 2012 Farm Bill should continue to encourage agencies to embrace technology to better serve producers and allow for more efficient delivery of all farm programs and indemnity payments.”
Wheat, sorghum, corn, soybean and cow calf producer
Great Bend, Kansas
“No matter which form of policy the Committee pursues, special care must be taken to encourage crop diversity and rotation on the farm and avoid a monoculture system which rejects agronomics in favor of farm policy incentives. The environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl was influenced in part by continuous monoculture cropping, and federal farm programs should not incentivize producers to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
Corn, wheat, sorghum, sunflower and cow calf producer
“Federal Crop Insurance has been a valuable tool for our operation, and I would strongly oppose making any cuts to this program. The ability to purchase insurance that protects against catastrophic losses provides an effective risk management tool, especially for beginning farmers. When I began farming, the availability of crop insurance was important in securing operating capital, and this is definitely a factor for many other beginning farmers. It does not – and should not – guarantee a profit, but establishing a known flow of revenue and mitigating severe risk factors are invaluable for acquiring operating loans.”
Corn, soybean and popcorn producer
“The vast majority of my fellow livestock producers believe the livestock industry is best served by the process of free enterprise and free trade. Even with its imperfections, free trade is relatively more equitable than regulated and subsidized markets, which retard innovation and distort production and market signals. We oppose attempts to narrow the business options or limit the individual freedom of livestock producers to innovate in the management and marketing of their production.
“I oppose inclusion of a ‘Livestock Title’ in the next farm bill. The livestock title in the last farm bill attracted proposals like the GIPSA rule, mandatory country-of-origin labeling and other items counter to the free enterprise system I support.”
Corn, soybean, wheat, sorghum and cow calf producer
“The primary purpose of the next farm bill ought to be as a strong safety net that protects farmers and ranchers during tough times for the health of our nation and our rural economies. A forward-thinking and well-designed safety net will be much more cost-effective than reactionary legislation that is put forward in times of emergencies.”
Wheat, corn, sorghum, soybean, alfalfa and cow calf producer