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(Article Summarized by Meridian Institute) In this blog piece, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) analyzes the crop insurance and commodity programs of the House Agriculture Committee’s draft farm bill, released last week. The draft bill, says NSAC, fails to take advantage of the opportunity to modernize the farm safety net. It includes only one modest change for the positive, continues NSAC - that of changing the definition of a beginning farmer from up to five years in business to up to 10 years in business, under Whole Farm Revenue protection policies, thereby providing much needed additional coverage support. Overall, however, NSAC says the bill “completely ignores the asks of countless farmers and farm advocacy organizations to improve program access and equity, and to ensure that the federal crop insurance program encourages – rather than penalizes – farmers for stewardship efforts like cover cropping.” It takes issue with what it calls “handouts” to mega farms by allowing them to receive unlimited commodity subsidies, as well as a provision that allows additional categories of persons to be considered “family members” for the purposes of increasing government payments. That provision, in particular, could increase farm subsidy payments to a single farm by hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. In addition, NSAC notes that the bill: Eliminated the Risk Management Education Partnership program, which awards organizations with partnership agreements to educate farmers on how to mitigate risk on their farms; Requires the USDA to undertake a rulemaking that would weaken wetland protection; and, Fails to remove barriers to conservation and stewardship activities within the federal crop insurance program.

Posted April 16th, 2018
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