Amendments Threaten to Change Farm Bill 2014

The House and the Senate have been busy this week in negotiations and floor debate over budget legislation for the coming year. As part of this process, the American Soybean Association continues to monitor the status of several efforts to attack portions of the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the farm bill, or crop insurance.

It is ASA’s policy to oppose any efforts to re-open the farm bill as well as any effort to reduce funding for farm bill programs or crop insurance from levels established in law. On Wednesday evening, the House passed its budget proposal without re-opening the farm bill, and the debate is expected to move to the Senate on Thursday.

To that end, ASA has identified and will oppose five amendments in the Senate of particular concern for soybean farmers. These amendments attack the framework and integrity of the crop insurance and risk management system that ASA worked to include in the farm bill. The amendments are likely to come to the floor for a vote Thursday or Friday and are listed according to the Senator that authored the amendment and the amendment number.

ASA is urging all its members to reach out to their senators and urge no votes on these amendments:

Amdt. 666 (Sen. Flake): Establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund (DNRF) relating to reducing premium support for crop insurance for agricultural producers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of more than $750,000 in FY16. – ASA opposes means testing, AGI caps and support limits, based on the impacts such limits would have on participation in the crop insurance program, and the ensuing detrimental effect reduced support would have on farmers’ ability to cover their operations.

Amdt. 671 (Sen. Flake): Eliminates federal premium subsidies on all crop insurance policies that include harvest price option (HPO), that is, when crop insurance indemnities are made when the actual market price of an agricultural commodity at the time of harvest is higher than the spring price for that agricultural commodity. – ASA opposes reducing premium support for the harvest price option given that such a reduction would impact an estimated 75 percent of all crop insurance policies. If such a large portion of the risk pool is impacted, participation in the program is depleted and all farmers are put at risk.

Amdt. 696 (Sen. Shaheen): Caps the federal portion of crop insurance premium subsidy at $50,000 per person annually. – ASA opposes means testing, AGI caps and support limits based on the impacts such limits would have on participation in the crop insurance program, and the ensuing detrimental effect a reduced risk pool would have on farmers’ ability to cover their operations.

Amdt. 723 (Sen. Booker): Establishes a DNRF relating to reducing the average adjusted gross income (AGI) criteria for persons or legal entities who qualify for farm subsidy programs. – ASA opposes lowering the existing AGI limit for eligibility to receive support under Title 1 programs. The farm program is designed to provide farmers with an efficient safety net. To realize that benefit though, farmers need to be encouraged to participate in the program, rather than made to overcome additional barriers to entry. There is already a cap to the total amount of farm program payments that a single farmer can receive, and USDA just this week issued its proposed definition of active engagement for the purpose of eliminating farm program payments to those not involved with the farming operation.

Amdt. 824 (Sen. Flake): Establishes a DNRF relating to require disclosure of the names of recipients of federal subsidy payments for crop insurance premiums. – ASA opposes the required disclosure of producer-level crop insurance payment information due to the significant encroachment on privacy that it presents. Given that this information is already released in aggregate by USDA, the goal of this amendment beyond an attempt to “shame” farmers that participate in the program is unclear.

PLEASE CALL BOTH OF YOUR SENATORS TODAY AND TOMORROW AND URGE A NO VOTE ON THESE FIVE AMENDMENTS. Members can also click here to send an email through Soy Action Center.

Using the Soy Action Center, ASA members can input their information and send this list, as written, to both Senate offices with the click of a button. That way, each Senator from your state has our list of opposed amendments to work from.