Farm Bill 2012Progress Relevant to Beginning Farmers

Update on farm bill 2012 progress relevant to beginning farmers from our friends at the Land Stewardship Project. As you know the U.S. House Ag Committee finished farm bill mark-up late Wednesday evening July, 11.   Nearly 60 amendments were voted on\and numerous amendments offered and withdrawn during the debate. Below is a quick report out on the status of some beginning and rancher provisions.

Program

Senate Bill

House Ag Comm. Bill

2008 Farm Bill

BFRDP $85 million over 5 yrs $50 million over 5 yrs $75 million over 4 yrs
CRP – TIP $50 million over 5 yrs $25 million over 5 yrs $25 million over 5 yrs
VAPG $50 million over 4 yrs $50 million over 5 yrs $15 million over 5 yrs
Outreach & Assistance to SDA Farmers $25 million over 5 yrs $50 million over 5 yrs $75 million over 4 yrs
  1.      Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program: $10 million a year from 2013-2017.  This is $35 million less than what the U.S. Senate dedicated to the program.  Policy wise three significant changes: 1) socially disadvantaged beginning farmer set-aside removed; 2) new veteran section added, and 3) more difficult matching requirements---still in play but hopefully being resolved by ranking member leadership.

There was an amendment offered and withdrawn by Rep. Walz (D-MN) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) to boost BFRDP funding to $85 million.  The amdt was forcefully opposed by Chairman Lucas who employed some aggressive tactic to suppress it.  Chairman Lucas’s opposition may have been as much against the conservation policy offset called, Sodsaver -- which reduces crop subsidy supports on native prairie and grassland being brought into production -- as it was against additional funding for beginning farmers.  There also was a good amendment adopted by Rep. Fortenberry (R-NE) that helped fix other policy problems in the program. 2.      Conservation Reserve Program – Transition Incentives Program: $25 million for 5 years.  This is half of what was offered in the Senate bill.  The House bill also did not include the new Senate grazing provisions provided for beginning farmers on CRP land. 3.      Beginning farmer credit provisions.  One of the most encouraging beginning farmer pieces in the House Ag Committee bill was inclusion of a new micro loan program which would be administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA).  The aim of the program is to provide more readily and accessible credit.  Championed by Rep. Fudge (D-OH) and Rep Fortenberry the program would make small loans of up to $35,000 to meet the unique needs of those producers through a streamlined application process.  It would also provide discretionary authority to FSA to establish intermediary lender pilot projects. 4.      Value-Added Producer Grant Program, which has a beginning farmer priority area: $50 million over 5 years which is the same as what the Senate had only the Senate spends those dollars over 4 years. 5.      Outreach & Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (2501 Program): $10 million per year or $50 million over 5 years.  This is double what was provided in the Senate bill and a good improvement. 6.      Consistent with the Senate the House Ag Committee bill: ·        Affirmed conservation set-asides for beginning farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers, with some slight policy improvements in the House. ·        Failed to provide funding to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Individual Development Account Program, and ·        Included a provision to provide beginning farmers with a 10% crop insurance discount. Where from here:  Clarity on what happens from this point forward is not well understood.  House floor action, various forms of an extension are all plausible but nothing has been determined. Look for additional updates as and if anything breaks in the near future.   Something has to happen before Sept. 30 which is when the current farm bill expires. Again feedback, corrections, and questions are welcome.  Send inquires to Adam Warthesen at adamw@landstewardshipproject.org.  For a more extensive overview we encourage people to review the NSAC postings or the Land Stewardship Project’s Statement on the House Ag Committee Bill.

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