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Proposed amendments could sink farm bill

By Jessica Domel

Farm and ranch families, now is the time to talk to your congressman.

Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) are calling on those involved in agriculture to do what they can to ensure no amendments are added to the proposed farm bill that could hurt the nation’s farm, ranch and dairy families.

“All Texas Farm Bureau members should call their congressman and tell them to vote no on any amendment that undermines current sugar policy and any other amendment that cuts crop insurance or imposes payment limits on farm programs,” Laramie Adams, TFB national legislative director, said.

A proposed sugar amendment would gut current sugar policy and would deny sugar farmers the non-recourse loan, which other row crop farmers are eligible for.

The proposal would reduce loan rates to levels last seen more than three decades ago, despite large increases in cost of production.

It would flood the U.S. market with heavily subsidized dump-market sugar, depress the prices farmers receive, jeopardize their ability to repay their loans and subject farmers to government-sanctioned foreclosures.

“We want to make sure our lawmakers stop any amendments that could jeopardize the chances of getting this critically needed farm bill passed on the House floor,” Adams said.

Congressman Mike Conaway of Texas, chair of the House Committee on Agriculture, released the committee’s draft of the 2018 Farm Bill April 12.

The full House is expected to consider the bill in the coming weeks in an attempt to get a new farm bill passed before the current legislation expires Sept. 30.

“A core purpose of a farm bill at any time is to help the country’s farmers and ranchers weather factors beyond their control, including natural disasters, disease and high and rising foreign subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers. This is especially true during hard economic times,” AFBF and more than 300 other organizations wrote in a letter to House members May 9.

Several amendments, which are potentially harmful, have surfaced in recent weeks in advance of the full House consideration.

Three frequently reported on amendments propose to gut crop insurance, undermine sugar policy and impose unworkable payment limits.

“We oppose these and any other amendments to HR 2 that would harm American farmers and ranchers and jeopardize passage of the bill on the House floor. During a prolonged recession in agriculture, failure to pass a farm bill on time would undermine the financial security of America’s food, fuel, crop and fiber producers,” the groups wrote.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has not yet released their draft of the farm bill.

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