Farm Families Praise Roberts Amendment

October 31, 2007

Roberts Amendment Allows Farmers to Elect Revenue Option Without Sacrificing Safety Net

WASHINGTON (Oct. 31, 2007)—Farm families across the country breathed a collective sigh of relief last week after the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously accepted an amendment offered by Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) that would allow farmers to elect to participate in a countercyclical revenue program but do so without sacrificing their safety net.

“Before the Roberts amendment was adopted, the Average Crop Revenue proposal was a false choice for farmers,” said John Thaemert, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers. “The only way that producers could participate in the program was to compromise their insurance safety net, making the optional program not much of an option.”

Nearly all the major farm groups in the nation expressed serious concern over the original Average Crop Revenue (ACR) proposal because farmers who suffered a crop loss would actually see their crop insurance indemnity cut while farmers who suffered no loss at all could collect a full ACR payment.

“Whether you grow fruits and vegetables, forage, or corn and beans, you absolutely depend on crop insurance to be there when you need it,” said Roger Moore, President of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. “Before the Roberts amendment was adopted, farmers who chose ACR and suffered a crop loss would have had the rug pulled out from underneath them just when they needed crop insurance the most. Fortunately, the Committee saw this serious flaw in ACR and unanimously agreed to fix it.”

While farmers will no longer have to give up needed crop insurance in order to participate in the ACR, problems with the program still persist. ACR provides little to no price protection should prices collapse. And, because ACR protects statewide revenue, rather than revenue on the farm, farmers could receive payments even when they don’t need them while farmers in dire need could be denied help.

“I’m more than a little concerned that farmers might buy into ACR not fully understanding that there is not much of a safety net there at all,” said Steve Verett, President of the Plains Cotton Growers. “We could wind up with a number of hurting farmers out there asking Congress for emergency ad hoc relief. But I can’t thank Senator Roberts and the entire Agriculture Committee enough for ensuring that at least these producers will have a strong crop insurance policy in place.”