Farmers to USDA: Implement Farm Bill Now

December 10, 2008

WASHINGTON (Dec 10, 2008)—Major farm organizations sent Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer a letter yesterday conveying serious concerns about the significant delay in publishing the regulations implementing numerous commodity and conservation provisions of the recently enacted farm bill.

The letter, which was also delivered to Office of Management & Budget Director Jim Nussle and to Congressional leaders, urged the Administration to release the regulations immediately.

“We certainly understand the significant challenge of implementing the provisions of the new farm law, but it is critical that program provisions be announced in a timely fashion so that farmers can make decisions for the 2009 crop year,” the 20 signers of the letter stated.

The letter reminded officials that the new farm law includes a requirement that implementing regulations be issued within 90 days of enactment. The statute also specifies that a 22 percent advance Direct Payment should have been offered to eligible producers beginning on December 1.

“The rapid decline in commodity prices, the unprecedented volatility that still exists in commodities futures markets, the tightening of credit, and sustained increases in the cost of many inputs have strained the cash position of many producers,” the groups stated. “The advance Direct Payments would help producers now, but they cannot request these funds until sign-up begins and sign-up can not start until the regulations are published.”

The letter also pointed out that the new law also significantly lowers the adjusted gross income test used to determine program eligibility and contains modifications to payment limitation rules that will eliminate spousal discrimination and will provide for the direct attribution of payments—changes that will require close study by producers before they sign up for commodity and conservation programs.