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For more than 30 years, Congress has enacted Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) laws to guide both Democratic and Republican Administrations in pursuing trade agreements.

What is TPA?
TPA is a legislative procedure written by Congress. It defines U.S. negotiating objectives and outlines a detailed oversight and consultation process used during trade negotiations. TPA does not provide new power to the executive branch, rather requirements for the president to follow. Under TPA, Congress retains the authority to review and decide whether any proposed U.S. trade agreement will be implemented.

TPA and Agriculture
Once a trade agreement has been reached, Congress will give an up-or-down vote, without any further amendments. It would essentially streamline passage of global agreements. TPA reaffirms Congress’s overall constitutional role in the development and oversight of U.S. trade policy.

A key element of TPA establishes requirements for the administration to notify and consult with Congress, with the private sector, other stakeholders and with the public during the negotiations of trade agreements.

The Republican Congress is likely to grant President Obama the “fast track” procedure known as TPA, allowing him to submit trade agreements for an up-or-down vote in Congress, former Agriculture Secretary and U.S. Senator Mike Johanns recently stated.

Improving overseas market access for agriculture will be essential to getting any agreement through Congress, he said.

“If agriculture isn’t enthusiastically behind any trade agreement, the chances of it getting done become much smaller,” Johanns added. “You can’t battle agriculture and expect to get a trade agreement approved in the House or Senate.”

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack enthusiastically touched on trade at the 2015 Commodity Classic to a national crowd of wheat, soybean, corn and sorghum growers.

“If we are going to get Trans-Pacific Partnership or any other trade agreement, we have to have TPA,” Vilsack said. “I am asking that you get engaged with your congressmen to get these trade agreements through.”

TWPA and NAWG are actively pushing for TPA passage, but individual support is needed. Find your representative and their contact information here, as well as talking points to address this important topic.

Once the TPA has been authorized, the White House can close current trade agreements including the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership. For America to get the best possible deal in trade negotiations, passing TPA is the essential first step.

March 31, 2015

Farmers have until April 7 – about an extra week-and-a-half – to sign up for PLC and ARC farm safety net programs authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill.

The final day to update yield history or reallocate base acres also will be April 7, 2015, USDA said.

“This is an important decision for producers because these programs help farmers and ranchers protect their operations from unexpected changes in the marketplace,” Vilsack said.

“Nearly 98% of owners have already updated their yield and base acres, and 90% of producers have enrolled in ARC or PLC. These numbers are strong, and continue to rise. This additional week will give producers a little more time to have those final conversations, review their data, visit their local Farm Service Agency offices, and make their decisions,” he said.

If no changes are made to yield history or base acres by April 7, 2015, the farm’s current yield and base will be used. A program choice of ARC or PLC coverage also must be made by April 7, 2015, or there will be no 2014 payments for the farm and the farm will default to PLC coverage through the 2018 crop year.

To learn more about each program decision, visit our 2014 Farm Bill Resources page or contact your local Farm Service Agency county office. To find your local office visit http://offices.usda.gov.

September 26, 2014
(updated Sept. 30, 2014)

On Thursday, Sept. 25, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack released information on the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs that were created in the 2014 farm bill. According to the timelines announced, producers will have through early spring of next year (2015) to select which program works best for their operation.

Base Acre Reallocation/Yield Updates
The first step of the sign up process will begin Monday, Sept. 29, when farm owners can update their yield history and/or reallocate base acres at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office. This step is optional and farmers can choose to leave base acres and yields as established with no further action. FSA sent letters out to all farm owners earlier this summer with their crop planting history, which should help owners make the decision to keep current base acres or reallocate them closer to recent year’s plantings. The deadline to complete the base reallocation and yield update will be Feb. 27, 2015.
Decision Aid Calculators
The availability of two new decision aid tools was also announced. One of the decision aid calculators, USDA-NAAFP, was developed by the Ag Food and Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M in conjunction with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri. The other calculator, USDA-APAS was developed by the National Coalition for Producer Education (NCPE), led by the University of Illinois. Both decision aids are now FSA approved and available online. Farmers who have been waiting for the official tools to be released can now move forward in confidence to start making program decisions. Both tools are listed below:
  1. USDA-NAAFP Decision Aid Calculator | Texas A&M University and University of Missouri
    This site of integrated tools can help producers analyze their options and choices for making base acre reallocation/yield update decisions, as well as the decision between the ARC and PLC programs required in the 2014 Farm Bill. Although the look and feel have changed, any data previously entered into the preliminary version of the calculator are still available from the previous site. If you are new to the site, you can start by creating an account.
  2. USDA-APAS Decision Aid Calculator | University of Illinois
    This decision aid calculator will aid producers in making decisions for updating yields, base acre reallocation and the decision between ARC and PLC.  Several webinars are also available that will review the farm bill programs and decisions, provide training and demonstration on the APAS farm bill decision calculator and include updates on prices and program analysis.
ARC and PLC Programs

Details on the differences between the ARC and PLC programs may be found in the final rule. FSA has also released a fact sheet that provides several examples for base acres reallocation, yield updates and scenarios of choosing ARC or PLC. Some common questions between ARC and PLC have been answered with the ARC-PLC FAQ sheet. Additional information can also be found on the USDA-FSA homepage. Producers can elect either ARC or PLC beginning Nov. 17 and the deadline to select a program will be March 31, 2015. 

2014-08-25 SWFP APH adjustment story(the following is an excerpt from the Southwest Farm Press story, Farmers insist RMA has ample time to implement APH adjustment for 2015, posted Aug. 25, 2014. Read the entire story here.)

The Texas Wheat Producers Association continues to take issue with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Risk Management Agency’s (RMA) reluctance to implement the Actual Production History (APH) adjustment as per the farm bill.

In a statement to Southwest Farm Press, TWPA said, “Crop insurance has become the go-to tool for producers, but without important measures like the APH adjustment, the coverage offered doesn’t add up to average production expectations.

“Today, farmers are being penalized because a persistent, one-in-eighty-year drought is included in their ten-year production history. In agriculture, weather disasters are part of the business, but they should not diminish the risk management available through crop insurance.

“Without the ability to exclude terrible yields from disastrous years, a farmer’s APH plummets; in turn, the amount of yield a producer can insure in future years will also drop significantly.

“During debate of the new farm bill, farmers supported changes that shifted emphasis to the crop insurance program. They did so by acknowledging the critical improvements such as the APH adjustment that would bring their crop insurance guarantees back in line with the productive ability of their land.”

Farmer perspective

David Cleavinger, TWPA board member and farmer in Wildorado, Texas, plants an average of 1,200 acres of wheat each year. After multiple years of devastating drought, he has seen his crop insurance coverage erode.

“I haven’t harvested an acre of dryland wheat since 2010,” Cleavinger said. “The drought developed in 2011 and hasn’t let up. It is tough to go year after year without making a crop, especially when I see those yields decimating the most important form of protection I have.

“I ran the figures on one dryland wheat section in Deaf Smith County, and by dropping the yields from three qualifying years, I would be able to increase my APH from 23 bushels per acre, to 28.”

At $6.50 wheat, the adjustment would correspond to $32.50 per acre of crop insurance coverage that he is not eligible for now but that his land is capable of producing under average conditions.

Regional approach

Some have suggested that RMA concentrate on the Southwest—arguably the most hard-hit section in the country over the past four years of persistent drought—for implementation in 2015. In a letter to RMA Administrator Brandon Willis, wheat producers associations in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas implored RMA to concentrate on areas hard hit by recent, persistent drought.

An excerpt from that letter reads: “If it is not feasible to implement these provisions nationwide for the 2015 crop year, we ask that they be implemented for growers in states experiencing persistent drought to provide growers the needed benefits of the new provision while not over-burdening your agency.”

APH implementation still unlikely for 2015

Joe Outlaw, Texas AgriLife Extension economist and Co-director of the Agriculture and Food Policy Center in College Station, sees little chance the adjustment will be ready for 2015.

“Don’t count on it for next year,” Outlaw said. “It’s a contentious issue. As of now, it will not be available for 2015.”

He explained to a group of wheat producers at a conference in Abilene recently that the adjustment would allow farmers to not count any production from a year when county average drops below the 10-year average. “It also allows for separation of dryland and irrigated acreage.

The exclusion would be good for our area of the country with significant drought losses. It is controversial.”

Farmers and their associations agree that the issue does stir up controversy, but they contend that farmers may suffer significant losses from the delay. Some imply that crop insurance companies prefer to push back implementation to avoid the potential higher payments. A Farm Press request for comments from the National Crop Insurance Services was declined.

Read the entire Southwest Farm Press article here.

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The Texas Wheat Producers Association is a voluntary membership organization of wheat producers in Texas. The association provides growers a concentrated, organized voice in political matters affecting the production and marketing of their crops. For more information, visit http://www.texaswheat.org.

July 2, 2014

The Risk Management Agency (RMA) released an interim rule Monday, June 29 that allows USDA to move forward with a series of crop insurance provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill. The interim rule will immediately go into effect, but a 60 day comment period will be available for public comments. Potential corrections to the rule due to comments may be published if needed. Comments can be submitted to www.regulations.gov by Sept. 2, 2014. All comments will be considered when the rule is made final. More information is available on the RMA website at www.rma.usda.gov.

The interim rule includes the following provisions:

1. Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (BFR) – establishes crop insurance benefits for beginning farmers and ranchers by increasing the premium subsidy available by 10 percentage points, allows the use of yield history from any previous farm or ranch operation in which they had decision making or physical involvement, and replaces a low yield in their actual production history with a yield equal to 80 percent of the applicable t-yield. The provision also waives specific administration fees for BFR.

To qualify as a beginning farmer or rancher, a producer must not have actively operated and managed a farm or ranch in any county, in any state, with an insurable interest in any crop or livestock as an owner-operator, landlord, tenant, or sharecropper for more than five crop years. This will exclude any crop year when the beginning farmer or rancher was under the age of 18, enrolled in post-secondary studies or on active duty in the U.S. military.

To apply for BFR benefits, individuals can contact their crop insurance agent. A BFR application will need to be completed and any crop years an individual wishes to exclude from consideration of BFR status must be shown in acceptable documentation. Those include when an individual was under the age of 18, enrolled in post-secondary studies (not to exceed 5 crop years) or on active duty in the U.S. military.

2. Conservation Compliance – this provision links the eligibility for premium subsidy paid by FCIC to compliance with the Highly Erodible Land Conservation (HELC) and Wetland Conservation (WC) provisions of the Food Security Act of 1985.

To be eligible for premium subsidy paid by FCIC, an insured must:

  • have a completed certification of compliance, form AD-1026, with the HELC and WC provisions on file with FSA by June 1;
  • be in compliance with a conservation plan approved by NRCS for all highly erodible land;
  • not plant an agricultural commodity on a wetland converted after February 7, 2014; and
  • not have converted a wetland for the purpose, or to have the effect, of making the production of an annually planted agricultural commodity possible on such converted wetland after February 7, 2014.

USDA will determine an insured’s eligibility for premium subsidy paid by FCIC at a time that is as close to the beginning of the next reinsurance year (July 1) as practical. The determination will be based on FSA and Natural Resources Conservation Service determinations regarding compliance with the HELC and WC provisions, as recorded in FSA’s automated system.

A certification of compliance, form AD-1026, must be filed with FSA by June 1 prior to the beginning of the reinsurance year (July 1). Insureds who do not have a certification of compliance will be ineligible for premium subsidy, unless they can demonstrate they are a beginning farmer or rancher who has not previously had an insurable interest in a crop or livestock and they began farming for the first time after the beginning of the reinsurance year but prior to the sales closing date. In addition, an insured who is in violation of the HELC or WC provisions will be ineligible for premium subsidy, unless specific exemptions apply. As stated on the RMA website, no premium subsidy will be withheld until at least the 2016 reinsurance year.

3. Enterprise Units on Irrigated and Non-Irrigated Acres – this allows a producer to separate irrigated and non-irrigated enterprise units within counties. Both the irrigated and non-irrigated acres must each separately qualify for enterprise units. Enterprise units by irrigated and non-irrigated practice will be available for any crop in which enterprise units are allowed through the actuarial documents, Crop Provisions, or Special Provisions. According to an RMA briefing, the provision will be available for 2015 spring crops.

This change allows producers to have two enterprise units for a crop in a county—one for irrigated production and one for non-irrigated production. Previously, only a single enterprise unit—covering all production of a crop in a county—was allowed.

If insureds do not qualify for separate irrigated and non-irrigated enterprise units, there are two options based on the timing of the determination:

  • if the determination is made on or before the acreage reporting date, insureds may have one enterprise unit comprise of all irrigated and non-irrigated acreage in the county of the crop, if they qualify, or basic or optional units depending on which unit structure the insureds reported on the acreage report; or
  • if the determination is made after acreage reporting date, the policy allows insureds to have one enterprise unit comprise of all irrigated and non-irrigated acreage in the county of the crop if they meet the qualifications or a basic unit will be applied.

Producers will not necessarily receive the same enterprise unit subsidy rate as before. RMA will publish new subsidy rates for practice-specific enterprise units that will be generally lower than for the enterprise units that cover all production regardless of practice.

4. Coverage Levels by Practice –this provision allows a producer to elect a different level of coverage for a commodity by irrigated and non-irrigated acres. Both the irrigated and non-irrigated acres must each separately qualify for enterprise units. This provision also allows a producer to elect different crop types for different coverage levels, where applicable. The provision was not going to be implemented until the 2016 crop year, but RMA announced in a briefing the change will be available for 2015 spring crops.

5. APH Adjustments – allows insureds to elect to exclude any recorded or appraised yield for any crop year in which the per planted acre yield in the county was at least 50 percent below the simple average of the per planted acre yield during the previous 10 consecutive years. A crop year determined eligible for exclusion in a county will also be eligible for exclusion in any contiguous county. Elections to exclude yields, by eligible crop year, by irrigated and non-irrigated acreage will be specified in the actuarial documents.

If there is not adequate production information to make a separate determination by irrigated and non-irrigated practice of whether a county’s yield is below 50 percent of the average of the previous 10 years, RMA will use all available data to determine which years may be excluded from a producer’s APH. If there is not adequate data to make the determination by practice, RMA will consider other options such as pooling data across practices.

According to RMA, past years of production experience will be eligible for an APH adjustment, and the provision will be retroactive from the date of implementation. Production data availability and intensive data analysis may limit FCIC’s ability to authorize exclusions of yields for all APH crops in all counties. Actuarial documents will specify when insureds may elect to exclude any recorded or appraised yield.

As posted on the RMA Interim Rule FAQ website, the APH adjustment will not be ready for the 2015 crop year, given the current time and resource constraints.

The Texas Wheat Producers Association, in coordination with other state wheat organizations and the National Association of Wheat Growers, has reached out to legislators and RMA officials to urge speedy implementation of this issue and will be submitting comments requesting the provision be made available for the 2015 crop year.

6. Correction of Errors – allows for the correction of errors in information obtained from the producer within a reasonable amount of time and consistent with information provided to other agencies of the Department of Agriculture subject to certain limitations for maintaining program integrity. This section also provides for the payment of debt after the termination date in accordance with procedures and limitations established by the FCIC, if a producer inadvertently fails to pay a debt and has been determined to be ineligible to participate in the Federal crop insurance program. This section also provides for the payment of debt after the sales closing date in accordance with procedures and limitations established by FCIC.

For a list of FAQ pertaining to this rule or the above provisions, visit http://www.rma.usda.gov/help/faq/farmbill_interim.html

 

 

The 2014 Farm Bill contains significant changes to the farm safety net that include new options for producers. It will be important that growers educate themselves on all the facts in order to make informed risk management decisions that best suit their operation. As an initial look at these new provisions, the Ag and Food Policy Center, Texas A&M Agrilife Extension, and the Southwest Council of Agribusiness have teamed up to put together info sessions to give those involved in the agriculture industry insight on some of the changes headed their way.

Date

Location

Location

Flyer

March 3 El Campo El Campo Civic Center  
March 4 Winnie Nutty Jerry’s  
March 12 Taylor Knights of Columbus Hall Schedule
March 13 Waco TX Farm Bureau Conference & Training Center Schedule
March 14 Greenville Fletcher Warren Civic Center Schedule
March 19 Lamesa Forrest Park Community Building  Schedule
March 20 Lubbock Plains Cotton Cooperative Association  Schedule
March 21 Amarillo Amarillo Civic Center – Regency B  Schedule
April 7 Corpus Christi
April 8 Weslaco
TBD Stamford

Visit www.southwest-council.com for additional information.

AMARILLO- When the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives last week, many farmers were faced with the difficult realization that uncertainty in farm country will continue.

According to Rodney Mosier, executive vice president of the Texas Wheat Producers Association (TWPA), this vote was not the first let down for farmers hoping for a five-year farm bill. After House leadership prevented the bill from floor consideration last year, a one-year extension of 2008 policy was hurriedly passed in January.

“The policy that came before the House last week was a product of several years of hearings, deliberations and compromise,” said Mosier. “Getting everyone to achieve consensus again will be a challenge.”

TWPA President Ben Scholz said wheat farmers across Texas were especially disappointed with the failure as they had great interest in policy items in the House version.

“Our association really favored the farm policy items in the House version,” said Scholz, a wheat farmer from Lavon. “Right now we have a bill that has passed the Senate, but no obvious way forward in the House.”

Scholz explained that the demise of the bill will be felt for a long time if new action is not taken prior to September 30, when the current extension expires.

“Most agricultural practices demand a lot of forward thought and planning for the future,” said Scholz. “Right now I am making decisions with no clear idea of what my risk management options will be next year.”

Mosier said that the consequences could reach farther than the farm gate.

“Farming operations provide a large boost to local economies, but if we do not see long-term policy passed that impact may decrease,” said Mosier. “Most farmers can not secure financing without proof of crop insurance and the assurance of a sustainable safety net. It is hard for financial institutions to continue approving loans when no one knows what the farm safety net will look like.”

Scholz said he greatly appreciates the work that has been done by the House Agricultural Committee and the U.S. Senate to generate progress, but expressed concern about the House’s inability to pass legislation that provided security for farmers and contributed significantly to budget savings.

“As for what will happen with the farm bill now – time will tell,” said Scholz. “I will be back on my farm wrapping up wheat harvest and doing what I can to facilitate what lies ahead.”

According to Mosier, the work for the association is far from over. He said members and staff will continue working on options and providing input to legislative leaders as they work to protect the future of the farm safety net.

The Texas Wheat Producers Association is a voluntary membership organization of wheat producers in Texas. The association provides growers a concentrated, organized voice in political matters affecting the production and marketing of their crops. For more information, visit http://www.texaswheat.org.

The Texas Wheat Producers Association (TWPA) congratulates the House Agriculture Committee on the passage of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) and encourages the House to devote floor time to the bill.

“FARRM is a strong, bipartisan bill that establishes equitable farm policy, reduces the national debt and provides a fiscally responsible safety net to farmers in Texas,” said Ben Scholz, president of the Texas Wheat Producers Association. “It is imperative that this important legislation be passed through the House to give farmers the certainty required to plan for future crops.”

In Title I of FARRM, producers are offered the choice of a Price Loss Coverage program, which addresses long-term price declines, and a Revenue Loss Coverage program which covers a shallow band of revenue losses. The Direct, Counter-Cyclical, Average Crop Revenue Election and Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments programs are all eliminated.

Title XI of the bill, which relates to crop insurance, includes a new Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) which offers additional crop insurance coverage. Other key successes within the title include the separation of permanent enterprise units for irrigated and non-irrigated acres, adjustments to Actual Production History (APH) and improvements to the t-yield plug.

Scholz, a wheat farmer from Wylie, expressed appreciation for the Chairman, Ranking Member and committee’s work in crafting the comprehensive farm policy package.

“We are especially pleased to see the draft pass from committee without any major changes,” said Scholz. “Currently FARRM meets the growing needs of our producers by offering options for risk management, strengthening crop insurance, limiting unnecessary payment limits, maintaining important trade development efforts and streamlining conservation programs.”

Several steps remain before the legislation is passed and available for farmers. The association looks forward to working with the House and Senate to continue the progress made for a fair and equitable farm bill.

“At the end of the day Congress has to provide growers with farm policy that will keep them in business,” said Scholz, “and the passage of FARRM would allow them to do that.”

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The Texas Wheat Producers Association is a voluntary membership organization of wheat producers in Texas.  The association provides growers a concentrated, organized voice in political matters affecting the production and marketing of their crops. For more information, visit http://www.texaswheat.org.

The Texas Wheat Producers Association (TWPA) strongly supports the efforts led by Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson in crafting the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM). FARRM is a strong, bipartisan bill that establishes equitable farm policy, reduces the national debt and provides a sustainable and fiscally responsible safety net to farmers in Texas and across the U.S.

The following outlines supportive measures of the TWPA as they relate to FARRM.

Title I of FARRM:

Under Title I of FARRM, the Direct, Counter-Cyclical, Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) and Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) programs are repealed and growers will now choose between a Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program and a Revenue Loss Coverage (RLC) program.

As established under Title I, a producer would be given an option to choose between the PLC program, which works to address deep, systemic price declines and the RLC program which addresses a shallow band of revenue losses. RLC is similar to the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program established under S.3240.  In addition, producers who elect to participate in the PLC program may also purchase newly established supplemental crop insurance to help reduce some portion of their risk exposure.

The TWPA is strongly supportive of the farm programs system established within Title I of FARRM as it works to address the diversified risk management needs of all farming operations. The language also minimizes interaction or duplication of Federal Crop Insurance, and achieves over $14 billion in savings to taxpayers.

In addition, we are extremely pleased that the bill does not reopen actively engaged rules. We believe the commodity title as written under FARRM is equitable, market-oriented, deferential of crop insurance, and fulfills the core principle of a commodity title – to protect our nation’s agriculturalists when they need it most.

Title XI of FARRM:

As it relates to Federal Crop Insurance, we strongly commend the Chairman and Ranking Member for heeding producer requests of “doing no harm” to the current federal crop insurance program and making improvements to what has become the cornerstone of U.S. farm policy.

As mentioned previously, the TWPA is supportive of the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) established under the crop insurance title. SCO allows a producer to purchase additional buy-up coverage on an area-wide group risk policy to address losses not covered by individual policies.

As a climatically-diversified row crop production state we support the continuation of insuring by permanent enterprise units and are strongly supportive of the ability to segregate between non-irrigated and irrigated units. We are also supportive of the enhancements made to actual production history (APH) in order to maintain sustainability for Texas growers.

We are encouraged to see that within FARRM there is meaningful outreach to address the risk-management needs of underserved crops and producers; including beginning farmers.  FARRM also requires the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to share information which will eliminate errors and ensure the accuracy of reported information.

With respect to the other titles of the farm bill we commend the Chairman and Ranking Member’s work in consolidating and streamlining conservation programs in order to provide a more effective delivery mechanism. In addition, we are greatly supportive of the reauthorization of the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program. More than 50 percent of U.S. wheat is exported annually and these programs allow growers to be competitive in a global market. Finally, we are supportive of a number of regulatory reforms, including H.R. 872 to repeal duplicative pesticide permitting requirements that are already covered by FIFRA.

In conclusion, the Texas Wheat Producers Association strongly supports the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) as crafted by Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson. We fully support the consideration and adoption of FARRM by the House Agriculture Committee.

AMARILLO — The farm bill has long been touted as a ‘safety net’ for farmers and according to the Texas Wheat Producers Association (TWPA) it must continue to honor that commitment.

The 2012 Farm Bill has faced a series of challenges, the largest of which is at least a $24 billion reduction in funding. Since last fall, members of the Senate and House Ag Committees have made significant strides to craft a bill that saves taxpayers billions of dollars, but more work is needed to secure adequate protection for America’s farmers.

Throughout the process, the TWPA has been working with legislators to ensure adequate coverage for Texas wheat growers through a comprehensive and diverse farm policy package which complements a strong crop insurance program.

“We need options in crop insurance coverage and Title I programs that will work for farm operations across our diverse state and country,” said TWPA President Ben Scholz, a wheat grower from Wylie, Texas. “Regional differences across the country do not allow for one-size-fits-all farm policy.”

In late April, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry passed its version of the 2012 farm bill which included several positive attributes for wheat farmers, but left them exposed to significant risk.

The Senate committee’s bill eliminates the Direct, Counter-Cyclical, and Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) programs and replaces them with the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program. ARC is designed to address shallow-losses and provides a narrow 10 percent band of revenue protection not covered by crop insurance policies. Title I of the bill does not include measures which will protect farmers when crop prices plunge or disasters occur.  The Marketing Loan program is kept intact, but with rates so low that they are not applicable to today’s operating environment.

According to TWPA executives, more than one option is needed to address drastic regional differences and the huge amount of risk exposure under which most Texas wheat growers operate.

“Moving forward we will push for additional coverage options for producers in Title I,” said Scholz. “Farm programs must meet the needs of all wheat producers, and those needs will be different for each individual operation.”

Due to the variable climate and growing conditions in Texas, available crop insurance coverage levels are lower than in other parts of the country and premiums tend to be higher. Therefore, Texas wheat farmers are exposed to more risk and shallow-loss programs will not protect them when they need it most – during significant price declines or production failures.

It is no secret that farmers are at the mercy of an unpredictable and volatile market.  Current price trends have been favorable for farming operations, but when prices decline, a true safety net must be in place to protect farmers and the nation’s food supply.

Successes of the senate bill include important improvements to crop insurance programs including permanent enterprise units which are separated for irrigated and non-irrigated acres.

“The TWPA has continued to discuss the importance of crop insurance and we are pleased with the improvements made in the Senate bill,” said Scholz. “Crop insurance is essential to our members and their ability to operate under adverse conditions.”

According to Scholz, it is important for Texas wheat growers to see a farm bill completed this year that includes significant and adequate protection for their operations.

“We are very appreciative of the steps the Senate Agricultural Committee has taken to begin the arduous process of crafting essential farm legislation,” said Scholz. “We look forward to continually working with members in the House and Senate to make improvements to the farm safety net that address both regional and commodity concerns.”