Farm Groups Warn Against Eroding Commodity Safety Net

February 14, 2008

WASHINGTON (Feb. 14, 2008)—Forty-two farm groups today sent a letter to leaders from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees expressing concern that a farm bill proposal unveiled earlier this week is “seriously under-funded.”

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Ranking Member Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) introduced the new farm bill package, which was drafted to overcome veto threats against versions of the farm bill passed earlier by the House and Senate.

The groups expressed gratitude for moving the farm bill process forward, but said they are worried that the new farm bill proposal would cut too deep.

“The Commodity Title has already shouldered a 60% decrease in baseline spending. To further burden the safety net for American agriculture with another $6.5 billion cut is unacceptable,” the groups wrote, referencing to the funds already transferred to other priorities such as nutrition, conservation, and alternative energy programs.

“Combined with the dramatic increases in farm input prices already faced by agriculture producers today, a downturn in commodity prices could prove disastrous for American agriculture,” the letter continued. “For this reason, it is imperative that good prices today not be used as an excuse to erode the future safety net for agriculture.”

Farm groups also pointed out that both the House and Senate committees rejected the policy provisions suggested by the Administration because they “are not acceptable to production agriculture.”

“Both of your committees worked diligently to craft thoughtful and balanced legislation, and we strongly believe conference negotiations should remain within the boundaries set by these two bills,” the groups concluded.

The American Farm Bureau Federation; Farm Credit Council; National Farmers Union; Crop Insurance Professionals Association; National Council of Farmer Cooperatives; and organizations representing most commodities signed the letter.