Washington, D.C. (June 13, 2012)—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) today strongly opposed two amendments to the farm bill that would weaken the crop insurance program and deprive producers of access to important risk management tools.
In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and the panel’s ranking Republican, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), NCFC outlined how two amendments in particular—SA 2168, sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), and SA 2156, introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)—would hamper the ability of producers to offset the risk inherent in production agriculture.
The Coburn-Durbin amendment would impose a means test and limit crop insurance protection based on the results. This amendment fails to recognize that weather disasters can happen anywhere and everywhere – and affect all producers, regardless of size. The Gillibrand amendment proposes additional crop insurance funding cuts, which would result in reduced service to farmers and ranchers. Both of these amendments would limit the reach and effectiveness of crop insurance.
“Agriculture has been a bright spot in an otherwise dim economy over the past few years; anyone from farm country, though, knows that the ag economy is highly cyclical—today’s highs can easily turn into tomorrow’s lows,” said NCFC President and CEO Chuck Conner. “The unpredictability of weather and turmoil in global markets can lead to equally volatile farm gate prices, yields and costs of production.”
“In the face of this,” Conner continued, “not maintaining an adequate safety net and sound risk management tools through the farm bill for all producers could prove in time to be penny wise and pound foolish.”
NCFC is a national association representing America’s farmer cooperatives. There are nearly 3,000 farmer cooperatives across the U.S. whose members include a majority of our nation’s more than 2 million farmers, ranchers and growers. These farmer cooperative businesses handle, process, and market agricultural commodities and related products; furnish farm supplies; and provide credit and associated financial services. Earnings from these activities are returned to their members on a patronage basis. Farmer cooperatives also provide jobs for nearly 250,000 Americans, many in rural areas, with a combined payroll of over $8 billion.