Don't play political games with crucial farm policy

Congress has started debating a fiscal year 2015 agriculture appropriations bill, which funds important food safety, farm services, animal health and nutrition programs. Unfortunately, some lawmakers are already trying to undo important parts of the farm bill, a piece of legislation that took four years to pass and hasn’t even been fully implemented yet.

Farmers’ crops are in the ground, and planting decisions were based on what they understood to be the rules of a the new five-year farm bill. In addition, the farm bill already went through four years of debate in the House and Senate before finally getting passed earlier this year.

The agriculture appropriations process is not the place to start debating farm policy again. Examples of harmful amendments offered so far include:

  • Making sensitive information public about farmers who purchases crop insurance. Under the political guise of transparency, this amendment jeopardizes a farmer’s security and invites identity theft. It’s also a thinly veiled attempt to give sensitive data to extremist anti-ag environmental groups who work to publicly shame farmers who purchase crop insurance.
  • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) testing on commodity title provisions. The 2014 farm bill reduced AGI limits for the third time in seven years. Additional AGI testing was debated and rejected on the House floor in 2011.
  • Eliminating funding for blender pumps. The 2014 farm bill already cut the vast majority of funding for blender pumps. This issue shouldn’t be opened again to eliminate what little funding remains.

The 2014 farm bill reduces our nation’s deficit by $24 billion over the next 10 years. Agriculture has been the only sector to contribute to deficit reduction under the 113th Congress.

It’s time for some members of Congress to stop playing political games with crucial farm policy. The Minnesota Corn Growers Association has been in contact with our Congressional delegation on these harmful amendments and we look forward to the passage of a strong agriculture appropriations bill that honors the commitments made to farmers in the new farm bill.

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