In a letter to Roll Call published yesterday, the National Corn Growers Association, American Farmland Trust and the National Farmers Union explain why maintaining a strong safety net for growers remains important even as farm programs face reform. The authors note that, while farmers support reform that will help our nation during these difficult economic circumstances, government support of a farm safety net is necessary if American agriculture is to remain robust.
“Failure to adequately assist farmers and ranchers in managing risks they have no other option to protect themselves from will, at best, invite dramatic consolidation of farms and, at worst, make American citizens dependent upon foreign countries for food just as we depend on others for oil,” the joint letter notes. “For nearly a hundred years, American public policy has believed that the health of agriculture is important and affects our national security – especially if we want to feed and clothe ourselves.”
Following this explanation of the benefit of supporting U.S. farmers, the authors explain the goal of a modernized system.
“Today, public policy for agriculture is clearly evolving toward the one guiding principle: Government support should help farmers manage risks that are beyond their control,” it explains.
Offering a vision of what a program of this nature would look like, the three organizations stress the importance of creating a system that works with crop insurance as it functions today.
“A modern farm safety net needs to and can be created that complements crop insurance – rather than duplicates it as we have in the past – while also saving the taxpayer significant money,” it offers. “Proposals we offer have put tens of billions of dollars of savings on the table while achieving an appropriate balance of public and private involvement in managing risks on the farm.”
The letter goes on to offer the specific elements that would be core to such a program.
“We strongly believe that producers must show they have suffered a real loss before they receive a payment,” it states. “The new safety net should be revenue-based and adjust to volatile and dynamic global markets. The new program should help farmers manage long-term market risks unlike crop insurance that protects against risks within a crop year and affect individual farms.”
Finally, the letter stresses the importance of ensuring the program would not create artificial incentives to produce on land that could have detrimental environmental impacts.
Signing the letter were NCGA President Garry Niemeyer, AFT President John Scholl and NFU Vice President of Government Relations Chandler Goule. To read the letter in full, please click here.