WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement in response to the 2012 Farm Bill Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Draft:
“NFU is pleased with the efforts of Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., to write a bipartisan bill under difficult budgetary constraints. This is an important step in a long process for writing the omnibus agricultural legislation, and it increases the likelihood that a bipartisan farm bill can pass the Senate in the near future.
“The robust crop insurance title provides protection for family farmers and ranchers in their times of need. Today’s committee print provides for simplified, flexible conservation programs and includes many livestock and energy programs that NFU supports. The bill also includes permanent disaster programs, including an additional provision for current-year losses, which NFU has long supported.
“While NFU applauds the effort to deal with price declines, we are concerned that it does not do enough to protect against long-term price collapses. With current prices, the safety net in the committee print provides for ample protection for farmers and ranchers. History has shown that periods of high prices do not last, and when prices do fall for multiple years in a row, the level of protection that farmers receive will go down as well, while input prices drop more slowly. We need a solution that addresses long-term price collapses, such as the Market-Driven Inventory System (MDIS). MDIS would provide farmer-owned commodity inventories, increased recourse loan rates, and other policy tools to help take the extreme high and low price periods out of the market.
“NFU is deeply concerned that core energy title programs did not receive real funding. The Rural Energy for America Program, Biomass Crop Assistance Program, Biorefinery Assistance Program, and Biobased Markets Program are a critical part of creating jobs and revitalizing rural America.
“Overall, NFU is pleased with the legislation. We commend Sens. Stabenow and Roberts for coming together to write this bipartisan bill and we look forward to working with the committee to complete a farm bill in 2012.”