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Farm Bureau considering alternative farm bill proposals

The American Farm Bureau Federation board voted last week to consider supporting alternatives to the Farm Bureau’s own commodity title proposal, sources within the organization have told The Hagstrom Report.

Farm Bureau has criticized the commodity title proposals that House and Senate Agriculture committee leaders included in the farm bill draft they sent in December to the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, and has put forward its own proposal for payments when crop farmers experience catastrophic losses.

But Farm Bureau’s proposal came late in the process, and the Congressional Budget Office has not scored it.

Farm Bureau has said that the commodity title proposals so far — a choice between a shallow loss program and higher target prices for most program crops and a separate program for cotton — would make payments too frequently for some crops and discourage farmers from following price signals in making planting decisions.

Members approved the organization’s proposal at their annual meeting in Hawaii in January, but some state Farm Bureau groups have dissented from the national proposal, a source said.

Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman is scheduled to testify before the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday at a hearing on risk management and commodity programs.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has said that after the hearing the committee will enter into negotiations that should lead to a markup session within a few weeks. Stabenow said last week that farm groups were “making progress” on reaching consensus on the commodity title.

A Stallman spokeswoman said that Stallman would not comment on the board vote or his testimony until a scheduled meeting with reporters on Tuesday.