The American Soybean Association has revised its position on the farm bill in an effort to resolve longstanding differences on new farm legislation and address higher projected costs. The group says it will now support a 2013 Farm Bill that includes updating and extending the current Counter-Cyclical Program. The group will also continue to support the Supplemental Coverage Option included in the House and Senate versions of last year’s measures as a complement to crop insurance. Recognizing that producers in different growing regions have different priorities for protecting farm income - ASA will support offering a choice between “higher options” for these two programs as well.
ASA President Danny Murphy says the group strongly supported the Agricultural Risk Coverage Program in the Senate bill last year. It’s the program’s higher cost and the need to find additional savings that led the group to revise its position. Murphy adds that the decoupled Counter-Cyclical Program allows producers to respond to market signals rather than government programs in making planting decisions. He notes that has been a key priority for ASA during the farm bill debate. Murphy says it also provides a safety net against several years of low prices - which has been important to supporters of the House bill. In addition - Murphy says the Supplemental Coverage Option will provide revenue protection at the county level and is more defensible because it requires farmers to pay part of the cost of the premium.
Under its proposal - ASA would set target prices under the Counter-Cyclical Program at levels that reflect an average of recent market prices. Payments under the program are based on the underlying crop acreage bases on a farm rather than on current-year plantings. The group states this is important in the event prices for commodities fall below their target prices - which would otherwise become a factor in planting decisions and could distort production. ASA’s support for a price-based program is contingent on decoupling program payments from current year production to avoid planting distortions.
ASA continues to support extending the Marketing Loan Program, eliminating the ACRE program, reducing or eliminating Direct Payments and the Senate version of the cotton STAX program. The group also urges the Agriculture Committees to protect the current crop insurance program as the foundation of the farm safety net - and to adopt improvements that would make it a more viable risk management tool for producers of all commodities in all regions of the country.