Letter to House Committee on Appropriations

The NCC joined 21 other commodity and farm groups in a letter to Rep. Young (R-FL), chair of the House Appropriations Committee and to Rep. Bonilla (R-TX), chair of its subcommittee on ag, strongly opposing any substantial changes to the policies embodied in the 2002 farm law and asking them to do likewise.

Published: February 27, 2002
Updated: July 9, 2002
The Honorable C.W. "Bill" Young, Chairman
Committee on Appropriations

The Honorable Henry Bonilla, Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

As you and your colleagues develop the FY03 appropriations measure, we respectfully and strongly encourage you to reject any efforts to include provisions, which would substantially change the policies embodied in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (FSRIA ’02) signed on May 13, 2002. We know you will be under significant pressure to identify new ways to fund the many important provisions that should be included in the FY03 agriculture appropriations bill. We understand the challenge you face since our organizations have identified program priorities we urged be included in your bill, but we are concerned that any proposals to modify the policies in FSRIA ’02 will undermine the effectiveness of the new law only recently signed by the President.

Mr. Chairman, farmers and ranchers continue to be confronted with falling incomes. USDA predicts net farm income will decline again in 2003. This forecast is based on the continuation of chronically low prices, escalating input costs and weak demand. Export demand is stagnant due to fierce competition, weak economies and a strong dollar, which continues to erode the prospects for increasing U.S. agricultural exports.

Our organizations have worked diligently with Congress and the Administration over the past two years to urge development of new, more effective farm policy. Congress responded by providing an additional $73.5 billion for the next ten years to facilitate development of a farm bill that would: (1) thwart the need for future economic emergency assistance programs; (2) provide an adequate safety net for producers; (3) more sufficiently fund conservation programs; and (4) provide additional funding for rural development and research.

The 2002 Farm Bill generally meets these objectives and it fully complies with the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2002, passed by the House and Senate. It is equitable and balanced. Unfortunately, due to economic conditions previously outlined, government payments have provided a substantial portion of farm income over the past four years. The new farm bill provides an enhanced, predictable financial safety net in times of low prices, but the addition of a counter-cyclical provision ensures federal funds are only made available when low market prices trigger financial assistance. Any change in the levels and schedule of financial assistance will be detrimental to farm income and would surely undermine the confidence of lenders and suppliers. Farmers and ranchers must be given the opportunity to regain their footing and must be provided with a reliable safety net.

In summary, the new farm law, which has been thoroughly debated for over 2 years, helps address many of the major problems faced by American farmers and ranchers. Consequently we strongly oppose any substantial changes to the policies embodied in the 2002 Farm Bill and ask you and your colleagues to do likewise.

We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in support of a FY03 agriculture appropriations measure which will complement and enhance the effectiveness of our new farm law and speed the recovery of the production agriculture sector of the economy.

Thank you for your consideration of our views.

Sincerely,

Alabama Farmers Federation
American Beekeeping Federation
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Sheep Industry Association
American Soybean Association
American Sugar Alliance
Farm Credit Council
Independent Community Bankers of America
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Grain Sorghum Producers
National Milk Producers Federation
National Sunflower Association
North Carolina Peanut Growers Association
South East Dairy Farmers Association
Southern Peanut Farmers Federation
US Canola Association
US Rice Producers Group
US Rice Producers Association
Western Peanut Growers Association

Identical letters sent to The Honorable David Obey and The Honorable Marcy Kaptur
ccs: Members of the Appropriations Committee