News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Heather Lilienthal   
Monday, 30 April 2012 10:37

Lykins receives 2012 Distinguished Service Award

WEST DES MOINES, IOWA – April 26, 2012 – The Iowa FFA Foundation honored Barb Lykins, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) director of community resources, with its Distinguished Service Award during the FFA state leadership convention in Ames on April 24.

“Barb is passionate about the development of young leaders in agriculture,” said Denny Presnall, IFBF executive director. “Her commitment to improving the quality of life for our young people and rural communities has been demonstrated through her professional and personal accomplishments. We are very proud of her contributions to the Iowa FFA Foundation.”

Lykins has been involved with the Iowa FFA Foundation for more than 25 years, serving in leadership roles on the organization’s sponsoring committee and capital campaigns.  In her current position at IFBF, she is responsible for development, implementation, management and evaluation of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation and the Iowa Farm Bureau Foundation’s philanthropic endowment and charitable giving initiatives. She also provides oversight and management of the organization’s meeting and travel department and agricultural education programs.

Prior to this position, Lykins served as director of IFBF’s Leadership Division and was responsible for direction of Farm Bureau programs in the areas of leadership development and training, young farmer activities, women’s activities, the Iowa Farm Bureau Foundation, agricultural and education efforts and the IFBF scholarship and grant programs.   She is a graduate of Iowa State University and received ISU’s Young Alum Award in 1997.


Farm and Nutrition Bill Mark-Up Begins PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 30 April 2012 10:21

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

“The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012” Mark-Up

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thank you Madam Chairwoman.  I appreciate all the work you and Ranking Member Roberts have put into this farm bill so far.  And while we still have a ways to go in the process, we are headed in the right direction.

The farm bill is never an easy process, and it certainly isn’t any easier under the current budget conditions.  We are dealing with a broad range of issues that are important to Americans, from conservation to nutrition.  It’s important we get a bill done this year.

Many of the members of this committee have come together in supporting what many farmers say is the most important piece of the safety-net, crop insurance.  We have worked for 30 years to make it an effective risk management tool.  And farmers have skin in the game with crop insurance, and that’s good policy.

There has been a lot of debate about the programs this committee is going to create to replace direct payments.  I still have reservations about a Title 1 revenue program, and its potential interaction with crop insurance.  But I understand the reality that there is fairly broad support for a revenue program.

I commend the Chair and Ranking Member on providing a high level of defensibility to the Chairwoman’s mark.  Accepting my proposal for a $50,000 payment cap on the commodity program is crucial to ensure that we all can go to the Senate floor and defend this bill.

And I am pleased we are finally closing the loopholes in actively engaged.  My amendment, which was accepted into the modified mark, will help ensure farm payments go to farmers, not doctors, lawyers, and celebrities.

There is no justification for allowing nonfarmers to receive farm payments.  And that is particularly true in this current budget climate.  The payment limits reform in the Chairwoman’s mark is something this committee should be very proud of.

I’m not going to ask for a vote today on my packer ban amendment, but I still want to say few things about it.

For too long, large meat packers have had an unfair advantage in the market place.  At some point, Congress has to address the fact that independent livestock producers are entitled to a level playing field.

One big step Congress could take to solve the competition problems is banning packer ownership of livestock.  As one packer executive once told me, packers own livestock so that when prices are high, they kill their own livestock, when prices are low, they buy from the farmer.

Banning packer ownership of livestock will help us ensure our livestock producers are able to compete in the marketplace.

Thank you Madam Chairwoman, and I look forward to moving an effective and defensible farm bill out of this committee.


Center for Rural Affairs urges Senate to Amend Farm Bill PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Elisha Smith   
Monday, 30 April 2012 09:33
Lyons, NE - April 25, 2012 - Today the Center for Rural Affairs called upon Senate Agriculture Committee members to adopt crucial amendments to the Farm Bill proposal currently before the committee. They are expected to begin debate on amendments today, Wednesday, April 25th.

“Unfortunately, the farm bill proposal before the Senate Ag Committee slashes investment in rural small business development and value-added agriculture while increasing crop insurance subsidies for some of the nation’s largest farms and wealthiest landowners. There are opportunities to fix some of these issues right now, while the Committee debates amendments to the bill,” said Traci Bruckner of the Center for Rural Affairs.

According to Bruckner, the amendment* offered by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) is an important first step. It would deny farm subsidies to individuals with taxable income over $500,000 and married couples making over $1 million. The money saved would be invested in revitalizing rural communities through small business development, beginning farmer programs, value added agriculture and assistance for small towns in updating water and sewer systems.

Likewise, Bruckner stated that the amendment offered by Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE), Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helps reverse the perverse incentive in current farm policy to break up marginal, erosion prone grasslands.

“Their amendment limits crop insurance benefits and premium subsidies for crops grown on native sod or land that a producer cannot verify has ever been tilled,” Bruckner continued.

As the Senate Agriculture Committee begins debating the next farm bill, they will undertake consideration of over 100 amendments offered by members of the committee. According to Bruckner, this is a time when much of the direction of the Senate Farm Bill will be determined.

“Moreover, in today’s economy it is more important than ever that the Senate make wise choices,” said Bruckner.

She further explained that under current and proposed farm policy, if one corporation farmed an entire state - her home state of Nebraska, for example - then the federal government would pay 60 percent of its crop insurance premiums on every acre, every year, even in times of record profits.

“This does not reflect rural America’s priorities or our values. We face a simple choice, either lavish subsidies on mega-farms, or, invest in rural America’s future. The best choice is obvious,” Bruckner added. “And there will never be a more important time for rural Americans to let their Senators know how they come down on that choice than right now.”

* The Sherrod Brown/Ben Nelson Amendment to the farm bill would deny farm payments to individuals with adjusted gross income of over $500,000. The savings would be used for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program ($25 million over 5 years), Value Added Producer Grant Program ($100 million over five years), beginning farmer programs ($45 million over 5 years), Water and Sewer replacement backlog ($150 million) and RBEG/RBOG business development programs ($10 million over 5 years).

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

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.

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