Stabenow says House crop updates play favorites

The Chair of the Senate Ag Committee says the farm bill passed by House Ag members is skewed toward large farmers with base acres and leaves young farmers at a disadvantage.

Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow spoke about legislative differences during the One Country Project’s virtual Rural Progress Summit this week.

“The House Bill gives a 70 percent increase in commodity payments for those crops, mainly big farmers, mainly in the South,” she explains. “We’ve never had a 70 percent increase in the farm bill in anything, 70 percent. Not paid for by the way.”

Base acres of 22 crops were determined in the 1980s and are still tied to those tracts of land today. 

Stabenow says commodity groups are even divided on how they need to modernize.

“National Corn Growers took what I think was a courageous step, because it’s controversial among all the agriculture commodity groups, to say, ‘you know what, we’ve been operating under a system of base acres that hasn’t been updated since the ’80s, we should update.'”

Stabenow says USDA today provides crop insurance on 136 crops and that’s where the spending needs to focus.

“If these are young farmers or new farmers getting in that don’t have that opportunity, it’s tough,” she says. “It’s very, very tough. So in our bill, we look at a farm safety net for all kinds of farmers. And I will tell you that in the House bill, it’s very skewed.”

She says the House’s bill is a move backward toward government payments for farmers and Congress needs to find a better solution for a farm bill to pass.

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