Washington (Nov. 8, 2007)—As the U.S. Senate begins consideration of the 2007 farm bill, it is understandable that Senators and America’s farmers and ranchers may feel a little dejavu.
That’s because the Senate will debate a rehash of the unpopular Kind-Flake amendment that was resoundingly defeated 117-309 on the House floor in July. The Senate version will be introduced by Senators Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
“The Lugar-Lautenberg amendment is repeal dressed up as reform,” said Paul T. Combs, a Missouri rice producer and President of the USA Rice Producers Group. “The amendment repeals the non-recourse loan and phases both direct and countercyclical payments down and out. That’s 100 percent of the safety net eliminated.”
In addition to the elimination of the safety net for producers of wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, cotton, rice, soybeans, canola, sunflowers, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, wool, honey, and producers of other crops, the Lugar-Lautenberg amendment also repeals the safety net for peanut and dairy farmers.
The amendment also hamstrings U.S. sugar farmers as they continue to compete in a world dump sugar market distorted by foreign subsidies and tariffs.
“Whether you produce peanuts in Georgia, milk in Vermont, or sugar in Minnesota, you would lose your safety net under the Lugar-Lautenberg amendment,” said Steve Williams, a Minnesota sugar beet grower and President of the American Sugarbeet Growers Association. “I hope Senators will reject this harmful amendment and support the strong, bipartisan bill that came out of Committee on a unanimous vote.”
Finally, the Lugar-Lautenberg amendment eviscerates the Federal Crop Insurance Program, exponentially increasing the cost of catastrophic risk protection to producers, while imposing a 30 percent tax on providers and reducing delivery funding by nearly 40 percent.
“Cuts to crop insurance do not just hurt providers, they hurt farmers and ranchers,” said Dee Vaughan, a Texas corn farmer.
“Crop insurance was way too expensive before the 2000 reform bill and you could not get decent coverage,” said Gerald Tumbleson, a corn farmer from Minnesota. “Since the reform bill passed, we have been heading in the right direction but the Lugar-Lautenberg amendment would reverse all of that.”