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LOEBSACK, CRAMER, EMMER, PETERSON, NOEM INTRODUCE BILL FIXING ARC COMMODITY SUPPORT PROGRAM

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Washington, December 29, 2017 | Joe Hand (202-225-6576) | comments
A coalition of rural House members from the Midwest introduced a bipartisan bill to fix the flawed Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) Program.

Reps. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) introduced H.R.4654, a bill requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to prioritize data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) when computing average county yields for the purposes of the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) Program.  

The 2014 Farm Bill included two new programs for covered commodities, Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), allowing the producer to choose once per farm bill which policy they believe would provide the most effective safety net. In implementing the program, USDA elected to rely on National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) data from producer surveys to determine the yield variable for ARC rather than other more trusted data sources, most notably from USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA).

H.R.4654 would direct the Secretary to prioritize RMA data over all other forms in counties where RMA offers county-wide insurance products, while also allowing the Secretary of Agriculture flexibility for all other instances.  Additionally, the legislation codifies USDA’s earlier decision to operate the program based on the physical location of the base acres, rather than requiring producers to elect one county for all payments.            

“During my travels across the state and in meetings with farmers, I consistently hear about the difficulty they face with Agriculture Risk Coverage,” said Loebsack. “I am proud to have worked in a bipartisan way to address these problems as we move towards crafting the 2018 Farm Bill.”

“Even though it is anticipated most producers will utilize the Price Loss Coverage going forward, our legislation provides a surgical fix to ARC in case the program is reauthorized in the next Farm Bill,” said Cramer. “Ahead of the 2018 Farm Bill, I’m pleased to see our bipartisan coalition of rural members coming together again, like we did for the last farm bill, to find solutions that work for our producers.”

"As Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, I’m working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve existing farm bill programs. While I’ve never been a fan of ARC I do believe we can make improvements to its data sources that will give producers more confidence in the program. This bill is a good starting point for reauthorizing the farm bill next year,” said Peterson.

“The commodity program is critical for a number of reasons,” said Noem. “First and foremost, it provides an important safety net to producers. Additionally, by building safety-net programs, like ARC-County, into the budget rather than doing crisis-by-crisis emergency spending, we can better predict financial needs and avoid deficit spending. The 2014 Farm Bill made a number of important reforms to the program, but improvements are needed to make sure it functions as intended. I’m optimistic the adjustments included in our legislation will make this critical safety net stronger and fairer.”

Click here to read the bill.
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