For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Zaks
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
Release: Farm Safety Net House Subcommittee Hearing Yields Red Flags
Washington, DC, April 27, 2023 – Yesterday, the House Agriculture Committee’s General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit Subcommittee held a hearing entitled: “Producer Perspectives on the 2023 Farm Bill.” The two-part hearing featured 10 witnesses representing major commodity producers, who shared perspectives on federal crop insurance, commodity price support programs, disaster assistance, and access to lending.
In opening remarks, Representative Austin Scott (R-GA-8), chairman of the subcommittee, and Representative Shontel Brown (D-OH-11), ranking member of the subcommittee, highlighted the need to move away from reliance on emergency disaster spending in addition to permanent Farm Bill spending.
“All told, over $90 billion in ad hoc assistance has been provided [to farmers] over the past six years,” said Rep. Scott. “While this assistance was much needed at the time and has allowed many of our farmers to survive economic conditions they might not have otherwise, it is not predictable, reliable, or fiscally responsible to expect such assistance in the future.”
“These dollars, although welcomed by those who receive them, have been distributed in an inequitable manner, favoring certain producers over others as has been confirmed by the Government Accountability Office,” added Rep. Brown.
“The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) agrees that continued authorization of ad-hoc disaster assistance is not a sustainable solution to address production challenges,” said Billy Hackett, NSAC Policy Specialist. “That said, throwing more money at fundamental food supply chain problems that will only become more expensive – by increasing commodity reference prices or raising subsidy rates for higher insurance coverage, as several witnesses suggested – will not help. Instead, Congress should invest in helping farmers adopt soil health practices and diversify production and markets. These strategies will enable farmers to manage risk on-farm and improve long-term resilience rather than rely on the taxpayer’s dime, and ultimately grow their bottom line.”
Notably, Representative Brown formally requested a future subcommittee hearing that centers underserved growers, noting that only major commodity groups were invited to share their perspectives.
“To inform the 2023 Farm Bill, NSAC is hopeful that the subcommittee will invite small to mid-sized, beginning, specialty crop, direct-to-consumer, and organic farmers to testify before the subcommittee about the challenges they experience when seeking access to the farm safety net and reliable financing,” added Hackett.
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more and get involved at: https://sustainableagriculture.net