Commodity and General Farm Organizations Urge Immediate Release of Farm Law Regulations

The NCC joined every major commodity and farm organization in conveying serious concerns about the significant delay in publishing the regulations implementing numerous commodity and conservation provisions of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

December 9, 2008
Contact: Marjory Walker or T. Cotton Nelson
(901) 274-9030

MEMPHIS - The National Cotton Council joined every major commodity and farm organization in conveying serious concerns about the significant delay in publishing the regulations implementing numerous commodity and conservation provisions of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, copied to Office of Management & Budget Director Jim Nussle and to Congressional leaders, the groups urged the Administration to release the regulations immediately.

“We certainly understand the significant challenge of implementing the provisions of the new farm law, but it is critical that program provisions be announced in a timely fashion so that farmers can make decisions for the 2009 crop year,” the letter stated.

The letter reminded officials that the new farm law includes a requirement that implementing regulations be issued within 90 days of enactment. The statute also specifies that a 22 percent advance Direct Payment should have been offered to eligible producers beginning on December 1.

“The rapid decline in commodity prices, the unprecedented volatility that still exists in commodities futures markets, the tightening of credit, and sustained increases in the cost of many inputs have strained the cash position of many producers,” the groups stated. “The advance Direct Payments would help producers now, but they cannot request these funds until sign-up begins and sign-up can not start until the regulations are published.”

Ricky Bearden, a Texas producer and NCC director, said, “farm program signup should be underway and producers should be receiving advance direct payments to use in financing their 2009 crops. Price volatility has caused many producers to delay marketing their crops so cash flow is critical and the advance payment option provided by Congress is increasingly important to farmers, suppliers and financial institutions. In addition, some producers would like to know the details of the new Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program option so they can decide whether to enroll or continue to participate in the traditional price support program. The decision to participate in ACRE is a long term irrevocable commitment so farmers need to know the details of the new program to make an informed decision.”

The letter also pointed out that the new law also significantly lowers the adjusted gross income test used to determine program eligibility and contains modifications to payment limitation rules that will eliminate spousal discrimination and will provide for the direct attribution of payments.

“Farmers will have to carefully review their farming operations to determine the impact these changes will have on them prior to signing up for commodity and conservation programs,” Bearden said.