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Contributor

Re: Agriculture With No Farm Bill

I'm not as "up" on some of the programs as others as they don't directly affect me. Maybe we all need to change that - to have a better idea what our peers are dealing with. After all, when I buy chicken feed it's sure affected by what corn folks deal with.

 

That said, am trying to distance some from relying on government programs. More direct market, less taking what "the market" gives. With as many talking food choices, food safety etc now it enables that. And I don't think it's exclusive to big/small/organic/conventional etc boxes that some try to put us in...I think we can all do a better job striving to work together. Someone buying rabbits or heritage turkey may or may not also buy the cereal that contains your grain. Not all want to work together and network, but I think the time is coming we'll have to. Talked with someone last night with a friend with hog barn payments of $4k - not sure how he'll make them if hog contracts get shaky, but make them he must.

 

Had to re-sign on - used to be here several years ago. Good to be back.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Agriculture With No Farm Bill

Welcome back.  Things have been updated a lot here since you left.

 

As for the points  about interconnection of ag, I will leave that for another day.

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Contributor

Re: Agriculture With No Farm Bill

Thanks!

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Frequent Contributor

Re: Agriculture With No Farm Bill

If we keep the  renewable fuel standard, doing away with the farm bill might not hurt Corn Belt farmers. (My brother-in-law who feeds cattle in eastern Colorado isn't as fond of the RFS as corn farmers here in Iowa.) 

 

To me, the most important part of the farm bill is the relatively modest research title. Both House and Senate bills would have spent less than $1 billion over 10 years, even after increasing spending slightly. Compare that to the $50 billion or so that continuting direct payments would cost over the next decade. 

 

Yet, it's federal and state research dollars that found a cure to the Southern Corn Leaf Blight of 1970 in about three years. And government researchers are currently working to prevent Ug99 stem rust from devastating wheat worldwide. 

 

Do away with both crop insurance and all research and, for the first time since the United States became a world power, the diets of Americans might change dramatically. I wouldn't go so far as to predict famine and widespread hunger. But it could be "interesting times" if some new crop disease not anticipated by Monsanto or Pioneer drifts into our bread basket or Corn Belt.

 

That said, the farm bill and farm policy have always done things that don't make a lot of sense for the general public. Commodity programs have always been capitalized into land costs. And current crop insurance subsidies (on average slightly above 62% at current levels) are indeed helping enrich some farms and contributing to some farms getting larger at the expense of their neighbors. Vince Smith, an ag economist at Montana State University, makes a compelling argument that many average Americans struggling to make ends meet are subsidizing farmers who would be considered wealthy by nearly all of our citizens.  

 

With the public current worried abou the federal deficit, I think the level of subsidy for crop insurance is almost guaranteed to fall, although I don't know if it will be this year or in the next five-year farm bill. (Taxpayers pick up 80% of the tab for enterprise units covered at the 65% and 70% levels. The taxpayer share drops as you go to higher levels of coverage.)

 

Even if federal subsidies for farmers fall back to a more defensible level, I'm not so sure that farm consolidation will end. Technology, skillful marekting and management of debt, dumb luck and inherited wealth all tend to work against some wave of young, neohomesteaders (even though I'd love to see that influx of young entrepreneurs). 

 

I also think that if the public is going to continue splitting the cost of crop insurance, taxpayers ought to get something in return. Adding conservation compliance back into eligibility for insurance just seems like the right thing to do, even if my friends at Farm Bureau and commmodity groups don't see it that way. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Highlighted
Advisor

Re: Agriculture With No Farm Bill

From what I hear, there will likely be pressure to eliminate the RFS mandate as well.  If they cut crop insurance subsidies, it's only fair if the corn belt experiences pain along with the rest of us.

 

As for Vince Smith's perspective, I know of more than a few Montana farmers who have other opinions about his.  Not to mention, Montana's Governor.

 

Conservation compliance is a strange beast.  I see non-farm interest groups using this issue as a bait and switch issue that keeps their hands in the money pot.  There are some who would like to see all DP's and crop insurance subsidies moved into programs they want to see moved to the forefront.  Not gonna happen, perhaps, but the sentiments are there.

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