House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said in a prepared statement that farmers need support, which should be called a food safety net instead of a farm safety net. "We have to do our part to support them [farmers]," Lucas told the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management's agricultural program hearing, which examined the Title I commodity and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance programs (SURE).
In his opening statement, Lucas argued that commodity support keeps farmers in business and food on our plates. "Without a safety net, a few bad seasons can put a farm out of business, so maybe instead of speaking about this as a farm safety net, we need to start calling it a food safety net," the congressman said, adding that that crop insurance and the Title I programs provide a floor for farmers and a "safety net for food production."
Lucas noted that during the current difficult budget times, agriculture will have to accept budget cuts, but, farm programs should not take a disproportional hit. "Cutting the farm program budget doesn't generate enormous savings. Farm programs comprise only 50 cents out of every 100 dollars spent."
In a statement after the hearing Subcommittee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said U.S. agriculture has experienced natural and manmade perils in the last few years, making it imperative that future farm policy not only mitigates a crisis, but also establishes a framework to prevent one. "With little time before the next farm bill, we should be cognizant that our resources are finite, our decisions are timely, and our investments need to last - our choices must be wise," Conway noted.