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Farm Safety Net

Farm Safety Net

Farmer in Corn FieldThe conservation, crop insurance and commodity titles of the farm bill have lots to do with keeping farmers in business.

However, the existing farm safety net programs need reform: it’s time to change programs that were designed for agriculture decades ago while working toward programs that better serve farmers and taxpayers. While the safety net is necessary, in this time of scarce budget resources we must ensure the right role for government in risk management, understand when the government should get involved at the farm level, and clarify the principles that should guide our agricultural policies and programs.

Today, farm policy is clearly evolving toward one guiding principle: government support should help farmers manage risks that are beyond their control. A crop insurance system has developed over decades to help producers manage risks that are specific to individual farms. Though this system is always improving, significant gaps and vulnerabilities remain if we rely on this as the only risk management tool.

A modern farm safety net needs to complement crop insurance—rather than duplicate it—while also saving taxpayers significant amounts of money. Proposals to do so will provide tens of billions of dollars in savings. Farm support programs must also be responsive to markets, require accountability, and minimize distortion.

Finally, we recommend maintaining basic environmentally-based accountability provisions in the farm safety net by reattaching conservation compliance to crop insurance and modernizing the enforcement.

Agenda 2013 Priorities

Policy Resource Library

 

Voices for Change

Changes in the 2012 Farm Bill appear both likely and may be significant, if not radical. Our country’s economic situation will be the most significant driver and agent of change in the 2012 Farm Bill. — Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust

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    Changes in the 2012 Farm Bill appear both likely and may be significant, if not radical. Our country’s economic situation will be the most significant driver and agent of change in the 2012 Farm Bill. — Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust