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Agriculture News As It Happens

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Southern farm groups hope for farm bill changes

Southern farm groups have reacted to the Senate Agriculture Committee’s approval of a new farm bill by praising southern senators for voting against the measure they consider inequitable, but also by expressing hope that the committee will change the bill before it goes to the Senate floor.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., voted against the bill in committee, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined them by proxy.

The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, the US Rice Producers Association, the USA Rice Federation, and the Western Peanut Growers issued a statement.

“We thank Sen. Chambliss, Sen. Cochran and Sen. Boozman for their steadfast support of equitable treatment of all rice and peanut farmers in the farm bill,” the statement said.

“While we are disappointed in the senate package due to its lack of equitable treatment of many of the producers we represent, we appreciate the efforts of these senators in so faithfully giving voice to so many farmers locked out of an effective safety net under the bill.

“We do appreciate the efforts of the chairwoman and ranking member of the committee to make some accommodation for our producers and we remain hopeful that, as the process moves forward, rice and peanut farmers in all growing regions might be allowed to participate as equals alongside other commodities in having access to risk management tools provided by the farm bill,” the statement said.

Chuck Coley, National Cotton Council

Chuck Coley
The National Cotton Council said in a statement Thursday that the bill would provide U.S. cotton producers with risk management tools that can provide support when conditions occur that are “beyond the growers’ control,” and that the legislation’s inclusion of significant modifications to the upland cotton marketing loan and GSM-102, “should serve to empower the administration to be more resolute and determined in future efforts to successfully resolve the long-standing Brazil WTO case and eliminate the threat of retaliation.”

But the NCC said it is “deeply concerned that the legislation reported by the committee does not include program choices that meet the needs of rice and peanut growers.”

“The NCC is committed to continue to work with those growers and their organizations to successfully modify the legislation before it reaches the Senate floor vote to ensure that Sunbelt farmers get the much-needed economic benefit of an adequate safety net,” said NCC President Chuck Coley.

“While it is important for cotton to have a workable program, many of our growers also rely on peanuts, rice and other crops for their livelihood and need viable cropping options.”

Coley said the U.S. cotton industry also has concerns with provisions regarding new lower payment limits, a significantly lower adjusted gross income eligibility test, and changes to the actively engaged in farming provisions used to determine eligibility for revenue and loan programs.