NAWG Secretary-Treasurer Erik Younggren traveled to Washington this week to testify on farm bill implementation before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.
Younggren, a producer from Hallock, Minn., offered NAWG’s thoughts on the 2008 Farm Bill, focusing primarily on the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance program (SURE).
SURE was established in the 2008 bill as a new safety net program to supplement crop insurance coverage for producers suffering from whole farm revenue losses. Rules under which SURE will be implemented have yet to be issued, a concern Younggren focused on in his testimony.
“I would be remiss to be at this hearing today and not relay the extreme frustration currently felt in the countryside regarding farm bill implementation,” he told Subcommittee Members. “If I could leave you with one message today, it would be this: farmers need to know the rules. A safety net is not a safety net if farmers inadvertently disqualify themselves due to program complexities or lack of information.”
At a separate hearing Thursday, USDA Under Secretary Jim Miller testified about the Department’s efforts to issue rules and put technology in place to administer farm bill programs.
Miller said USDA has started using the $50 million in stimulus money it received for IT upgrades, but that eventual needs will be nine times that allocation. Miller also said USDA has picked up the pace of ACRE education efforts, and that the Department will be in a position to issue disaster assistance for livestock producers as early as next month. SURE regulations will follow later in the year, but the specific timeline remains unclear.
Younggren’s full testimony is available online at www.wheatworld.org/issues/farmbill
Miller’s testimony is available at http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html