AGRIBUSINESS: Farm Bill Dissatisfaction

Generally the farm bill extension tacked onto the fiscal cliff deal was unwelcome by agriculture.

Many trade groups wanted to end direct payment subsidies, which are a successor to 1996’s market transition payments. Lost with the extension was a new system reforming direct payments called the Agricultural Risk Coverage or ARC program, which was a key feature in the Senate version of the 2012 farm bill. The ARC program allocated funds based on need and actual production history, rather than arbitrarily.

“We’ve been working for close to three years now on developing reforms and new ideas for a five-year farm bill,” said Iowa Corn Growers Association’s Senior Policy Advisor Amanda Taylor. “We were obviously disappointed in a nine-month extension. [It] doesn’t make any of the reforms and changes that we had hoped for; it just simply extends direct payments. It leaves 37 programs without baseline funding. Authorized, but with no funding and probably very unlikely to get funded by the appropriations committee. Unfortunately, we’ll have to start work over again in 2013 with a more difficult budget climate.”