After two years, jury still out on farm bill

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WASHINGTON – Congressman Jerry Moran, chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, recently chaired a mid-term review of the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act.

Farm Bill anniversary. The hearing marked the second anniversary of the 2002 farm bill – a comprehensive law that has attempted to return income stability to U.S. farmers.

The subcommittee heard from high level officials from the USDA, as well as national farm and commodity organizations.

The hearing reviewed policies within the legislation as well as the performance of the programs.

Concern over losses. “Although there was broad support for the current farm bill, concern was expressed over the consequences of weather-related production losses,” Moran said.

“Loss of farm income due to multi-year disaster must be addressed, most likely through changes in crop insurance.

“As we mark the two-year anniversary of this farm bill, we hold this hearing to provide insight to the subcommittee on the policies and programs at work in this legislation, which will help us as we develop future farm policy,” Moran said.

“Today’s witnesses indicate that because commodity prices are higher, we are spending less on farm programs. This is good news for our farmers as well as for American taxpayers.”

Too soon tell. Keith Collins, chief economist for USDA, indicated in his opening statement, “The 2002 farm bill was an outgrowth of concerns expressed by producers, consumers, agribusiness, rural communities and many other stakeholders.”

He said two of those concerns were a desire for a stronger, built-in safety net that producers and their lenders could count on when market prices dropped to low levels and the need to have better tools for addressing resource concerns on working lands.

“While it may be premature to assess the 2002 Farm Bill’s performance at the end of only its second year, there appears to be general agreement that the 2002 farm bill has put in place a set of programs that addresses both of those concerns,” he concluded.

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