What is in this article?:
- Deep rifts forming in farm bill debate
- Insurance cuts
- The plot thickens in the farm bill saga, although one economist stresses we are far from a final version of the legislation.
- Crop insurance premium subsidies would be capped at the 75 percent coverage level, saving an estimated $15.5 billion. Commodity export programs would be reduced by more than $3.5 billion.
Proposed cuts in crop insurance add to the multi-billion dollar cuts to the program sustained in 2010.
Some policy makers and farm groups advocate an approach that integrates crop insurance with farm income support. “That may be where we’re heading,” Novak says. “Recently, there has been a lot of sentiment expressed for a revenue loss program that sits on top of crop insurance, and we’ll see where that goes.”
According to Novak, Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking minority member of the House Agricultural Committee, has indicated it may be easiest to satisfy competing farm program interests by offering them a choice of programs. The choices may consist of a STAX-type program, the current counter-cyclical payment system or a shallow-loss revenue program.
In some respects, the budget cuts and farm bill debate reflects 1930s thinking about the New Deal versus the free market. Although seemingly divided on an ideological and partisan level, GOP and Democratic members of both the House and Senate Agricultural Committees do not seem that divided over the shape of the next farm bill. However, Novak says, “The shape of the next farm bill will be affected by the upcoming presidential and congressional elections.”
“Deck chairs on the committees may be significantly scrambled,” he says.
For his part, Novak has been struck by the widespread disillusionment among voters for congressional incumbents, noting the recently organized and well-funded “super PAC” known as the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which is urging voters to throw out all incumbents.
“If they’re successful and we get a whole new crop of lawmakers, all bets are off on the type of farm bill that ultimately will come out of the ag committees,” he says.
Meanwhile, Novak says the cuts in the proposed 2013 House Budget Resolution seem to reflect the consensus of the House.
On the other hand, the Senate has not yet assented to the House Budget Resolution and, if reports are accurate, is unlikely to do so.