2012 Farm Bill
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson is sending signals to American agriculture that all segments of farm and food policy need to roll up our sleeves and start work on the 2012 farm bill.
While no official schedule han been set at this time, indications are that initial committee hearings will begin this spring and early summer, both in Washington, D.C., and around the nation.
Next year, Congress will be faced with budget cuts across the board in order to deal with the staggering budget deficits and the interest on the accumulated national debt. It is clear that the nationcannot sustain the spending binge it is on, and all government policies will be under close scrutiny.
Chairman Peterson has wisely determined that work on a new bill needs to begin now, with the intent of concluding House action by the end of next year to address any potential funding issues.
It is important to note that the bill would essentially be written in a non-election year (2011). This would allow the bill to be reconciled with a Senate bill in early 2012.
The Senate Agriculture Committee has not indicated how or when it plans to proceed with deliberation of the farm bill. Once the hearing schedule is solidified, our industry will participate where it is appropriate.
Crop Insurance Price Election
The Risk Management Agency (RMA) announced an increase in the price election for sugarbeets for the 2010 crop. The initial price election was set at $41 per ton, but after your grower leaders worked with RMA officials in January and February, the RMA adjusted the rate upward to $43.75 per ton.
While we believe this is a very conservative adjustment, some uncertainty remains as to if or how much sugar would be imported after April 1 of this year. There is always a concern to not set the price election too high to avoid any incentive to not harvest a difficult crop.
Grower leaders from across the nation made their annual visits to congressional offices in late February and early March. It was an opportunity to visit with staff and members in more than 200 offices to discuss a number of issuesimportant to our industry.
This is an annual reminder of the strategic importance of our industry and where we stand on key issues before the Congress, including farm policy, food security, trade agreements, and cap and trade climate legislation. It is also a time for growers to attend timely fundraisers for members of Congress. This is important and productive time well spent by our grower leaders, and we appreciate them taking precious time out of busy schedules to do this good work.
As a reminder, we are accepting applications for the Cleavinger Internship Program until the end of March. This is a wonderful opportunity for a college student to spend up to eight weeks in Washington, D.C., to work in our office. We appreciate financial support from Bayer CropScience to help make this opportunity available to talented young men and women.
Luther Markwart, author of Dateline Washington, is executive vice president of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association.