Public divisions are emerging over the upcoming farm bill over whether or not to link crop insurance to climate change mitigation efforts.
Days after House Ag Committee Republicans expressed skepticism about the connection, Rep. Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat who chairs the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee. Agri-Pulse The authors of the article have a link.
“You can’t separate the two,” Bustos said. “We need to have a strong defense program, and obviously, a strong defense program is very weather-related.”
“I am confident that if the information provided helps, and as the conditions in agriculture allow, farmers will naturally prefer to adopt the best practices of their farms. We should not use crop insurance as a carrot – or worse, as a stick – to force their hand,” said Thompson.
Aside from climate issues, Bev Paul, a lobbyist at Gordley Associates and a policy advisor for the AGree Coalition, said she would like to see the crop insurance program expand beyond annual coverage to encourage crop rotation and sustainable practices.
“We’ve started to focus on risk-adjusted conservation agriculture, and how we can do it,” he said. “How do we make sure that the crop insurance program doesn’t discourage farmers who want to try new crops and new methods, in order to be sustainable over the long term?”
While many are approaching the upcoming farm bill with a long list of priorities — including some that could be very expensive — Bustos said the legislation could face economic challenges.
“You can’t ignore the fact that you can’t just print money and continue to spend indiscriminately,” Bustos said. “I think everything has to be looked at in terms of what we can afford… We have to make sure that our policy is in the right place, and the policy is affordable.”
But when it does, Congress wants to expand the programs in the next farm bill, A story writer Tom Sell, managing partner at Combest, Sell and Associates, said there could be good reasons for growing the crop insurance budget. Sell said that spending on disaster relief in recent years has led to the prospect of emergency spending.
Don’t miss a beat! It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, DC and around the country in agriculture, just click here.
“You don’t have any of this (marketing money) mapped out to begin with,” Sell said. “(Congress needs to) act. We’re going through another disaster this year, and there’s hope based on five years of emergency. So I think it’s going to be all right to bring new money into the farm bill.”
For his part, former House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway — who helped write the 2018 legislation — said. Agri-Pulse now may be a good time for Congress to introduce new funding for the farm bill. However, he says it may be a difficult request.
“Fighting to write a farm bill in any situation is difficult,” Conaway said. “But having new money can make it less, modestly more difficult because you always have new needs and new competition for things that come under the bill. So money can be very useful for people who write the money next year or the year after that.”
However, Conaway admitted that the struggle to find new funding will be due to the country’s decline.
More comments from Bustos, Conaway, Paul and Sell are available in the latest issue of Agri-Pulse Newsmakers.
For more information, visit Agri-Pulse.com.