Agribusiness
Senate Farm Bill Short on Savings, Long on New Subsidies PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Tammy Nash   
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 14:09

The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee tomorrow will begin marking up a five-year, $480 billion Farm Bill that introduces a destructive new “shallow loss” insurance program and falls far short of even the modest budget-cutting goals set out by the White House.

While the Senate bill does eliminate some wasteful subsidies, including $5 billion a year in direct payment subsidies that are sent to agricultural producers regardless of need, it projects to save only $26.4 billion over the next decade. That’s less than both the $30 billion target set out by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) and the $33 billion in cuts anticipated by President Barack Obama’s budget proposal.

The bill actually increases by $3.2 billion over the next decade federal spending on the already $9 billion-a-year federal crop insurance program, which sees taxpayers pick up the tab for more than 60 percent of farmers’ premiums. A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office suggested that simply limiting the subsidy to $40,000 per producer would save $1 billion a year.

Rather than scale back the crop program, the Senate bill diverts most of the savings from eliminating direct payments into a new “shallow loss” insurance program that would compensate farmers if their income drops by as little as 5 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office, repealing direct payments would save $44.6 billion over the next decade, but the new “agricultural risk coverage” adds $28.9 billion to the budget. The losses the program would compensate for need not be from floods, droughts, frosts, or other weather-related catastrophes, but would instead largely be driven by market fluctuations in the prices of commodities.

The following statement from The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and 312/731-9364.


“As currently structured, the federal crop insurance program is a boondoggle that costs taxpayers billions, offers lush corporate welfare both to big agribusiness and to insurers and insurance agents, and harms the environment by encouraging converting previously wild lands for agricultural development.

“Rather than introduce a costly new shallow loss subsidy, Congress should be encouraging risk-based pricing by the Risk Management Agency and phasing out crop insurance subsidies for all but the smallest and neediest of farmers.”

R.J. Lehmann
Deputy Director, Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate
The Heartland Institute
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
202/525-5726

 
Jobs and Rural Development should be Farm Bill Priority PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 13:07

By John Crabtree, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Center for Rural Affairs

On Wednesday, April 25th, the Senate Agriculture Committee begins considering amendments to their draft Farm Bill proposal. When they do, they should make investment in creating genuine opportunities for rural Americans and their communities a priority. Unfortunately, their initial proposal does the opposite.

This proposal increases farm program and crop insurance subsidies for the nation’s largest farms and wealthiest landowners, but slashes investment in rural small business development and value-added agriculture. In fact, it makes no investment in rural development whatsoever. We can, we must do better than this.

In today’s economy, it is more important than ever that Congress make wise choices. Under-investing in our future while over-subsidizing the rich and powerful is not a priority that reflects the common good. Under current and proposed federal farm policy, if one corporation farmed my entire home state of Iowa, the federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre, every year, even in times of record profits.

The higher crop prices rise, the higher subsidies for crop insurance premiums rise. They have ballooned to one and one half times their cost just two years ago – higher than all other farm programs. And with no effective cap on how much one large operation can reap, these premiums simply become subsidies that mega-farms use to drive smaller family farms out of business.

We face a simple choice, either lavish subsidies on mega-farms, or, invest in rural America’s future. The best choice is obvious.

 
U.S. Soy: Naturally Sustainable PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by United Soybean Board   
Wednesday, 25 April 2012 12:14
Soy Checkoff Works with Partners to Meet Customer Sustainability Demands

ST. LOUIS (April 23, 2012) – The United Soybean Board (USB) and soy checkoff have begun leading an effort to demonstrate the high sustainability performance of U.S. soy to customers who increasingly demand products grown using sustainable practices. USB continues to collaborate with the American Soybean Association, U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and several state soybean checkoff boards to compile specific examples that show how U.S. soy production is sustainable.

The organizations intend to use the information to ensure U.S. soybean farmers’ freedom to operate and open market access for U.S. soy across the globe. It will encompass all U.S. soy and all U.S. soybean farmers.

“We’re taking an overall view of what’s already being done by U.S. soybean farmers to become more sustainable and informing our customers around the world about it,” says USB International Marketing program chair Sharon Covert, a soybean farmer from Tiskilwa, Ill. “U.S. soybean farmers have always been sustainable; it’s at the heart of what we do. We have a tremendous amount of research to show how sustainable we’ve become.”

As more customers demand sustainably sourced products and ingredients, checkoff-funded research provides facts that show U.S. soy meets those demands. USB’s life-cycle analysis of soy production and processing and measurements against key sustainability metrics show U.S. soybean farmers continuously improving their sustainability performance.

“This is a time-sensitive issue, giving us an opportunity to avoid trade interruptions with any of our U.S. soy customers who demand sustainable soy,” says USSEC Chairman Roy Bardole, a soybean farmer from Rippey, Iowa. “In fact, this provides an opportunity to open markets in the European Union, where sales of U.S. soy could be seriously inhibited in the future because of sustainability issues. It will be a huge boost to our efforts there.”

The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unitedsoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

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While U.S. Soybean Farmers Plant, Their Checkoff Prepares for Future PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Erin Hamm   
Friday, 20 April 2012 12:57
All Activities of the United Soybean Board and Soy Checkoff Include Rigorous Checks and Balances

ST. LOUIS (April 19, 2012) – As they get their own crops in the ground, the farmer-directors of the United Soybean Board (USB) and soy checkoff will also be busy planning the activities for fiscal year 2013–each designed explicitly to maximize the profit opportunities of their fellow U.S. soybean farmers. That means carefully investing the funds that U.S. soybean farmers entrust them with each year.

“My fellow 68 soybean farmers and I who serve on USB invest these funds as if we’re standing alongside our families and our neighbors, whose trust we treasure,” says USB Chair Vanessa Kummer, a soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D. “Every day, with every checkoff activity, we work to keep that trust. And U.S. soybean farmers should expect no less.”

Each activity USB funds – from investing in research to protect and increase yields, to expanding markets for U.S. soy exports abroad, and more – include explicit objectives, strategies and, most importantly, performance measurements subject to the review and approval of the entire farmer-driven board, as well as of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The federal law creating the soy checkoff also requires that a set percentage of all checkoff funds collected be invested to audit and evaluate programs and projects each year by a panel of USB farmer-directors that make up USB’s Audit & Evaluation (A&E) program.

The law also requires USB to engage an objective third party every five years to measure the return on investment (ROI) that U.S. soybean farmers receive in exchange for their national-checkoff dollar. The last ROI study, conducted in 2009 by Texas A&M University, found that U.S. soybean farmers see a net return of $6.40 for each checkoff dollar invested.

The rigorous checks and balances of the national soy checkoff do not stop there. The federal law that created the soy checkoff in 1990 requires USB to ensure that all soy checkoff funds are used in accordance with federal law, including the funds invested by the 31 Qualified State Soybean Boards. So, the farmers who run USB’s A&E program work with an independent compliance coordinator dedicated to this purpose.

“Our fiscal year begins Oct. 1, 2012, and we’re kicking into heavy planning for the future,” says Kummer. “As usual, our official mission will be at the center of our work: to maximize the profit opportunities of all U.S. soybean farmers, complying with the federal law that created the soy checkoff .”

The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy’s customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit www.unitedsoybean.org
Visit us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/UnitedSoybeanBoard
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/unitedsoy
View our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/UnitedSoybeanBoard

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Says Thank You to America's Farmers, Ranchers, and Rural Communities for Helping Strengthen Our Nation's Economy PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by USDA Communications   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 15:43

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa, April 19, 2012 - Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack highlighted the importance of agriculture and rural America to the economic recovery and the strength of the nation. Vilsack touted America's farmers, ranchers and growers as some of our nation's greatest assets, responsible for one out of every 12 jobs: providers of our food, feed, fiber, and fuel while helping to drive our national economy. He highlighted ways the USDA and the Obama Administration have worked to improve the lives of rural Americans and grow the agricultural economy over the past three years by developing new markets at home and abroad, maintaining a strong safety net, investing in conservation and research, and encouraging the next generation of farmers.

"Thanks to the productivity of America's hardworking farmers, ranchers and producers, U.S. agriculture continues to be a bright spot in America's economy and a driving force behind export growth, job creation, and our nation's competitiveness," said Vilsack. "U.S. agriculture accounts for 1 in 12 jobs, provides American consumers with safe and affordable foods, contributes to record incomes for farm families, and is helping reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Through our efforts at USDA and the work of the White House Rural Council, the Obama Administration is supporting farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as they help strengthen our nation's economy."

Vilsack noted USDA's work to strengthen the rural economy over the past three years, including:

  • USDA is maintaining a strong safety net to help keep American agriculture profitable and keep farmers on the farm. Over the past three years, USDA's crop insurance program has paid out almost $16.2 billion to more than 325,000 farmers who lost crops to natural disasters. Other programs have provided nearly $3.5 billion in aid to help more than 250,000 farmers and ranchers recover from natural disasters.
  • USDA has provided 103,000 loans to family farmers and has worked with over a half a million farmers to pursue conservation agreements and easements - enrolling a record number of acres in conservation programs and contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the rural economy that supports many jobs.
  • USDA has made historic investments in America's rural communities, financing 50,000 rural small and mid-sized businesses - helping to create or save 266,000 jobs.
  • USDA has invested in broadband service for nearly seven million rural residents and helped to build or renovate over 6,200 community facilities including hospitals, schools, fire and police stations and libraries.
  • USDA has helped 456,000 rural families in more than 21,000 communities buy or refinance a home.

Vilsack also touted the work of the first-ever White House Rural Council, that was established by President Obama in June 2011. Chaired by Secretary Vilsack, the Council gives the Administration the ability to cut across large federal agencies to deliver results for rural families and businesses and provides a unique opportunity to hear directly from people across the country on how to grow the economy and create jobs in rural America.

Since its launch, the White House Rural Council has supported a broad spectrum of rural initiatives including a $350 million commitment in SBA funding to rural small businesses over the next 5 years, launching a series of conferences to connect investors with rural start-ups, creating capital marketing teams to pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural investments, making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide, making HHS loans available to help more than 1,300 Critical Access Hospitals recruit additional staff, and helping rural hospitals purchase software and hardware to implement health IT. USDA and Navy have also announced a partnership to advance the use of next generation biofuels in Navy operations.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).


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