Sets Up Policy Fight at National Level
Update: AFBF President Stallman affirms direct payments debate will be issue #1 at AFBF Annual Meeting.
Setting up a potential policy battle between proponents of direct payments and those that favor risk-management programs, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau resolutions committee voted earlier this week that the next farm bill should continue direct payments to farmers.
“Our top priority is the continuation of direct payments,” stated OFB President Mike Spradling. “The payments provide producers flexibility to grow various crops while providing income support.”
Recall that earlier this year the Iowa Farm Bureau voted in favor of ending direct payments in the next farm bill in favor of an expanded crop insurance and Average Crop Revenue Election Program.
The policy differences will be debated at the upcoming AFBF Annual Meeting in Atlanta where either side could emerge the victor. Many other states are assessing their position on farm bill programs and members should expect states to form coalitions early on in the policy development process.
According to Chris Clayton of DTN, Oklahoma likely has the upper hand when it comes down to writing the text of the bill.
Oklahoma, though, likely gets the trump card after next week’s election. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) is supporter of direct payments. He is in line to become chairman of the committee if Republicans take control.
From a legislative perspective, despite support from the chairman, supporters of direct payments will face an uphill battle. The GOP will come to power with a strong desire to cut the federal budget and abandoning direct payments and the cost saving associated with that position will be attractive to deficit hawks. Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) has voiced his support for scaling back direct payments.
“The next farm bill debate in 2012 will require us to respond to our runaway deficit and cut costs. Revenue insurance is the best way to do that while enhancing trade opportunities and not distorting market prices,” Lugar said.
It is too early to say who the winner of the policy battle within Farm Bureau will be. Expect the issue to be a hot topic at both the upcoming AFBF Resolutions Committee meeting and the AFBF Annual Meeting.