Johanns Offers, Cosponsors Amendments to Improve Farm Bill
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) has offered and cosponsored several amendments aimed at improving the farm bill, which passed the Senate Agriculture Committee last week.
“This farm bill is not the bill I would have written, but, in addition to the troubling aspects of the bill, there are several provisions that I believe are a good step for American ag policy,” Johanns said. “The amendments I’m offering and cosponsoring address the areas I have the most concern with in an attempt to make farm policy more fair, more market oriented and find additional savings for ranchers, farmers and taxpayers.”
Below is a brief summary of the amendments Johanns introduced:
· Treat Rice and Peanuts the Same as Other Commodity Crops
Eliminates the high minimum prices that only apply to rice and peanut producers. Every other commodity has rolling average price protection that moves with the markets to avoid long-term market distortions. Rice and peanuts have a special carve-out that makes frequent subsidy payments much more likely. This amendment simply ensures fairness by using the same payment formula for all crops.
· Study Impacts of Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) Program
Requires the Chief Economist to issue annual reports on the impact and interaction of ARC with other farm programs, including crop insurance and the new supplemental coverage option.
· Prevent Double Regulation of Pesticide Applications
Eliminates a duplicative requirement by clarifying that people using pesticides already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) will not also be required to obtain a duplicative permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Identical legislation passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote of 292 to 130 and also passed the Senate Agriculture Committee with strong bipartisan support last year.
· Prohibit Use of Taxpayer Dollars to Pay Foreign Farmers
Prohibits the Department of Agriculture from using the farm bill as a piggy bank to avoid World Trade Organization compliance. For the past several years, the U.S. has made $147 million in annual payments to Brazilian cotton farmers so the United States can delay changing market-distorting cotton programs. When the U.S. wins a WTO decision against another country, we expect them to comply. The U.S. should do the same.
· Limit Categorical Eligibility
Closes a loophole in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to prevents states from automatically enrolling individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for the program. This amendment would not touch benefits available to individuals who qualify and truly need this important program.
Below are some of the amendments Johanns has cosponsored:
· Prohibit EPA from releasing data on livestock producers.
· Limit federal payments to high-income farmers.
· Repeal market-distorting target prices and put reference prices for rice and peanuts back in the Ag Risk Coverage program with other commodity crops, similar to the bipartisan farm bill last year.
· Eliminate the double payment available only to peanut farmers. Farmers have an annual limit on amount of payments, but if the same farmer grows peanuts, they can receive double the payment amount.
· Help beginning and veteran farmers.
Johanns also cosponsored an amendment offered by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) repealing duplicative paperwork requirements placed on imported seed.