General farm, northern crops achieve consensus on farm bill principles | TheFencePost.com

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General farm, northern crops achieve consensus on farm bill principles

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union and six groups representing commodities grown mostly in the northern states have reached consensus on a series of farm bill proposals, but groups representing generally southern crops have not signed off on them.

The coalition, which includes the American Soybean Association, the National Association of Wheat Growers, the National Barley Growers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Sunflower Association, the U.S. Canola Association as well as the Farm Bureau and the NFU, reached agreement on a number of issues. Their agreement was attached to the testimony submitted by the wheat growers and the soybean growers March 28 at a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on part of Title I, the commodity title of the next farm bill.

But the addendum to the testimony also contained the following note: "The National Cotton Council, Southern Peanut Farmers Federation and USA Rice have also participated in these discussions but do not have sufficient policy yet to support these provisions. All three of those groups, as well as those listed on this statement, intend to continue to work together to see if we can come to further agreements on these and other 2018 farm bill issues."

The document says the groups in the coalition have reached consensus on the following points:

Overarching issues

Increase funding in the 2018 Farm Bill in order to address the significant reductions in farm prices and income incurred since 2013, and to meet other critical needs.

Federal crop insurance and commodity programs are our top funding priorities.

Commodity programs

Change the ARC (Agricultural Risk Coverage) and PLC (Price Loss Coverage) programs to make them more effective and fairer to all farmers.

If the ARC and PLC programs continue, farmers must be allowed to re-elect and re-enroll on a crop-by-crop basis.

Commodity program payments should be based on recent historical crop production rather than on current year planting.

Crop insurance programs

Oppose reducing premium discounts.

Continue a counter-cyclical program like the PLC program and a revenue program like the ARC program.

Conservation programs

Maintain strong funding for federal conservation programs which preserve environmental benefits, while continuing the prioritization of working lands conservation programs.

Maintain strong funding of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program.

Examine the rental rates of the Conservation Reserve Program and the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program annually at enrollment to ensure they mirror the rental rates of comparable land in the immediate area. Improve State Technical Committees to make them more ag-friendly by encouraging producers' participation and input.

Other programs

Ensure adequate funding for agricultural research and education.

Continue work on simplifying procedures, reducing paperwork requirements and streamlining interactions between the Farm Service Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Risk Management Agency via the Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative.

Continue and work to improve the Young and Beginning Farmer Programs implemented in the 2014 farm bill.