What is in this article?:
- Motivated by expected deep cuts to agriculture programs by Congress’ ‘super committee,’ in recent weeks, farm/commodity groups and congressional committees have produced a steady stream of agriculture program proposals. The proposals cover a gamut of policy ideas.
On Zulauf’s thoughts once his study was completed…
“I was surprised at the commonality of the proposals despite coming from widely different groups. These groups are diverse and span the context of agriculture. You’d think there would be a truly wide variety of proposals.
“The variety comes at the specifics. But when you look at the proposals from a broader perspective, the commonalities are obvious.
“Out of the 10 proposals (see Table 2), the big majority have an individual crop orientation, a multiple-year benchmark (meaning a key parameter is averaged over several years), farm losses required to receive payments, no fixed-price or revenue benchmark.
“This says that the orientation of policy in the broad scheme contains a lot of commonality.
“Another thing that struck me is these proposals are radically different from proposals you’d have heard even four years ago.
“The notion of ‘shallow loss’ – was that even mentioned (in the 2008 farm bill debate)? It was, but very little.
“Also, the notion of crop insurance being an integral part of the farm safety net. That’s an idea that was in its infancy in 2008.
“These are major changes in people’s perspectives of the farm safety net.
“Another thing is that only two of the 10 proposals mention retaining direct payments. And one of them would cut those payments by 50 percent. Four years ago, would you have thought a majority of farm group proposals would have eliminated direct payments?”
Anything new that the majority of proposals contain that is likely to pass?
“I study two main areas: policy and futures and options markets. I’ve discovered trying to predict outcomes in either of those areas is very difficult.
“So, I don’t think I’d look at these proposals and say ‘this is what will happen.’ That depends on the budget, on other issues. Legislators are willing to negotiate overall, or certainly most, aspects of policy.
“However, I see these proposals as a marketplace of ideas. And the market is a reasonable forecaster.
“What people are talking about is a good indicator of what might happen. But I emphasize the word ‘might.’
“From that perspective, what is the policy direction these proposals are suggesting? Taken as a group, you’d tend to say that we’re moving towards some sort of a revenue program that addresses ‘shallow’ and multi-year losses and is coordinated with crop insurance.”