NCC: No Adverse Farm Law Changes or Budget Reductions
NCC Director Ronnie Lee testified at a Senate agriculture committee hearing that with producers now making critical decisions on the new farm law’s various program options and with program election and sign-up deadlines still ahead, it would be highly disruptive and punitive to make adverse policy changes or budget reductions while the new farm law is being implemented.
WASHINGTON, DC – With producers now making critical decisions on the new farm law's various program options and with program election and sign-up deadlines still ahead, it would be highly disruptive and punitive to make adverse policy changes or budget reductions while the new farm law is being implemented.
That was the assessment conveyed here today on behalf of the National Cotton Council (NCC) by Ronnie Lee, a Bronwood, Ga., cotton producer, in testimony he presented during the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee's hearing to review implementation of The Agricultural Act of 2014. He also was testifying on behalf of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.
Lee, who serves on the NCC's board of directors, said, "With cotton's safety net now comprised solely by the marketing loan program and crop insurance, we are especially concerned by the recent actions and statements focused on eliminating key crop insurance tools. Farm policy generally, and cotton policy specifically, were substantially reformed, funding reduced, and market orientation increased in the 2014 farm bill, so now is not the time for further changes that will only undermine the foundation of risk management for production agriculture."
Lee stressed that one of the most challenging implementation issues has been the imposition of the payment limit on the marketing loan. Tracking total benefits that have accrued to the limit has proven to be a complex and challenging task for USDA. The uncertainty created by the limit works to undermine the effectiveness of the marketing loan.
With respect to USDA's current rulemaking process on 'actively engaged' in farming, he urged the Committee to work closely with USDA to make sure that any changes to the provisions do not exceed the scope of the farm bill statute.
Lee told the Committee that the U.S. cotton industry looks forward to continuing its work with the House and Senate agriculture committees and with USDA on the farm law's full implementation and to address any shortcoming or unintended consequences.
The Memphis, Tenn.-based NCC's mission is ensuring the ability of the U.S. cotton industry's seven industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.
The U.S. cotton industry provides employment for some 200,000 Americans and produces direct business revenue of more than $27 billion. Accounting for the ripple effect of cotton through the broader economy, direct and indirect employment surpasses 420,000 workers with economic activity well in excess of $100 billion.