NFU’s take on the Senate Ag Farm Bill draft

The Senate Agriculture Committee released its 2013 farm bill draft Thursday and the National Farmers Union says they are pleased with it overall.

Chandler Ghoule, NFU vice president of governmental affairs, tells Brownfield it is very similar to the Senate-passed farm bill of 2012 and they are pleased that additional price protections were added to Title One. However, he says, “The target prices that they did add were fairly low and we’re concerned that they won’t actually be substantial in the long run. We have asked that they increase the target prices for ALL commodities, across all regions.”  Ghoule says rice and peanuts got a very good deal and that’s likely due to the Senate Ag Committee’s new Ranking Member Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

While there isn’t a total breakdown of the numbers yet, Ghoule says the draft does maintain 23-Billion dollars for deficit reduction spending. Because the Congressional Budget office found last year’s bill would have only represented $13-Billion in cuts THIS year, Ghoule says the committee had to find extra savings to make that work.

“They had to find an additional $10 Billion to get back to $23 (Billion), where they were last year,” Ghoule explains, “We’ve seen most of those cuts have come out of Title One, a little bit out of conservation and, then, the rest of it coming out of crop insurance programs – but none of them so substantial that it would move our support for the bill.”

It also includes some programs such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program from the 2008 farm bill which were not included in the 2012 version.  The National Milk Producers Federation is also happy because the draft includes the Dairy Security Act. The Senate Ag Committee is scheduled to mark-up the bill on Tuesday.

The most important thing, Ghoule says, is to get a five-year farm bill passed before the one-year extension runs out on September 30th, 2013.

AUDIO: Interview with Chandler Ghoule (4:00 mp3)


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