By Matt Reese
Last fall, the National Corn Growers Association unveiled their Agriculture Disaster Assistance Program (ADAP), a commodity title proposal for the 2012 farm bill designed to modify and replace the existing Average Crop Revenue Election Program (ACRE) and provide a more effective and responsive safety net for
Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association member Anthony Bush, from Morrow County, serves as the chair of NCGA’s public policy action team and oversaw the national effort. With the NCGA’s farm bill option that cut more than $20 billion in spending over 10 years and transitioned away from the increasingly hard to justify direct payments, politicians took notice.
After some near miraculous political maneuvering by Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown and his staff, a version of the NCGA proposal found its way into the congressional spotlight with unusual bipartisan sponsorship and support in the Senate. This Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management Program (ARRM) program is now the focus of farm policy in the U.S. Senate.
“My team has been working on a revenue-based concept for a couple of years now,” Bush said of the NCGA Public Policy Action Team. “We were looking for something that complimented crop insurance and didn’t compete against it. We developed the ADAP program. NCGA then voted to endorse the ARRM program that was introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio and Senator John Thune from South Dakota as well as Senator Lugar and Senator Durbin. ARRM is a variation of what was introduced by NCGA. It is a revenue-based program that works in conjunction with crop insurance on the top end. It builds on the ACRE program but it is simplified. It protects against multiple-year price declines due to circumstances that are out of our control, which is what our growers told us to do.”
ARRM protects revenue by providing a safety net in the form of a pot of money that will hopefully never be used.
“The ultimate part of this program is that you will actually have to experience a loss on your farm to get a payment. An ARRM payment is not something that is going to keep you in business. It is something that can fill in the gap that crop insurance can’t fill,” Bush said. “The pricing mechanisms are based on five-year Olympic averages. There is nothing that is arbitrarily set by politicians that can be unfair in any way.”
In the extremely challenging political climate and budget situation, the ARRM revenue based program is much more defensible and feasible than direct payments or target prices. Any farm bill program that has a chance of passing will need very broad support.
The process will ramp up in the Senate Ag Committee in the next few weeks.
“The Senate has released a series of hearings on different titles. March 21 is the Commodity Title hearing and there will be chances to testify on that. It will be subject to amendments on the floor,” Bush said. “The biggest thing is to get a bipartisan solution out of the committee and onto the floor that can be defended and that we can get passed.”