Six New Farm Bill Recommendations for Ag Groups

September 14, 2011 04:14 PM
 

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Farm groups offered advice from Senate Ag panel economist

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

Some farm groups – the National Cotton Council and the National Corn Growers – have already presented some initial new farm bill proposals. Those and coming ideas from other groups should fit the following six recommendations previously mentioned by Joe Schultz, senior economist for the Senate Agriculture Committee:

-- Simplify (Consolidate Programs)

-- Meet Emerging Risk Management Needs: No More Ad hoc Disaster Programs for Agriculture

-- Be Innovative

-- Make it Defensible

-- Is it Budget Compliant?

-- Re-evaluate Merits of Continuing Decoupled, Direct Payments

Comments: Let's take these suggestions one by one...

Simplify (Consolidate Programs): Congress should start with the too-many-to-count, let alone understand, conservation programs. And if the ACRE program isn't eliminated with another program, the complexity of ACRE should be a warning that programs designed by economists should pass the logic test of simplicity. Alas, that may be impossible. Ditto for some congressional aides who get involved in program details.

Meet Emerging Risk Management Needs: No More Ad hoc Disaster Programs for Agriculture: Well that's been tried before. A few years back certain Democratic senators argued for a disaster program that would no longer require ad hoc disaster in the future. The program was approved, but the calls for ad hoc disaster aid continued. Simply put, lawmakers have never seen a disaster they couldn't at least attempt to turn into their political advantage.

Be Innovative: Does that include sneaky? Farm groups and farm-state lawmakers and their aides are known for their gaming of the budget process and especially the Congressional Budget Office. They will do it again. On the positive side, NCGA and the NCC are facing different realities and coming up with what they believe are innovative proposals. It's taken far too long for cotton lobbyists to get innovative. But when they do, history shows to read the fine print.

Make it Defensible: To whom? Ahh, there's the rub.

Is it Budget Compliant? Farm groups and farm-state lawmakers know how to spend money, but get high anxiety when they have to cut. And we're still waiting on how many billions of dollars will have to be cut from farm policy via Super Committee decisions. This whole process makes me recall what my Depression-era father told me while I was still at home: That his generation was save and invest; that my and succeeding generations are borrow and spend. Enough said.

 

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.
 

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