National farm policy should be rewritten this year to establish a program that protects farmers from catastrophic revenue losses by using a flexible combination of fiscally responsible tools, said voting delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 93rd Annual Meeting.

In approving the organization’s farm policy for 2012, the farmers and ranchers endorsed a multi-pronged policy proposal, including a provision for catastrophic revenue loss protection that works with a flexible range of crop insurance products, as well as amending the current farm bill’s marketing loan provisions to better reflect market values.

The adopted policy calls for a farm bill that “provides strong and effective safety net and risk management programs that do not guarantee a profit and minimizes the potential for farm programs affecting production decisions.”

“Our delegates approved a program to help farmers manage the many different types and levels of risk they face today, in particular catastrophic revenue losses that can threaten the viability of a farm or ranch,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “That is consistent with what we believe is the core mission of the federal farm program.”

Stallman was re-elected as AFBF president for a seventh two-year term. He is a cattle and rice producer from Columbus, Texas. In addition, Barry Bushue was re-elected to a third two-year term as AFBF vice president. Bushue produces berries and nursery plants in Boring, Ore., and also serves as Oregon Farm Bureau president.

The delegates defeated a proposal to retain the current farm bill’s direct payments. In addition, by almost a two-to-one margin, the delegates defeated an amendment that would have allowed a patchwork of support through multiple programs for different commodities and regions.

“Delegate action against the patchwork approach recognized that it is impossible to ensure equity between diverse programs for various commodities,” Stallman said. “Without that assurance, one program would inevitably provide more government protection than the next program and we would inadvertently be encouraging producers to take their signals from government programs rather than the marketplace.

“Our delegates approved a policy that is flexible enough to work within the funding constraints we, as a nation, are facing, and the fiscal challenges we have a duty to address,” Stallman said. “Our delegates recognize we need to move beyond the policies of the past and to move toward programs to help producers deal with risk.”

One of the big advantages of the new AFBF farm policy position is that it offers a much simpler approach to farm program design than other farm policy proposals, according to Stallman.

The AFBF farm policy also encourages farmers to manage their farms using available risk management tools. According to Stallman, farmers should be allowed and encouraged to make individual management decisions to purchase crop insurance coverage that suits their farms and individual levels of risk.