Rep. Kristi Noem joined Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) in introducing new legislation to strengthen the Farm Bill’s Commodities Title. More specifically, H.R.4654, would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to use Risk Management Agency (RMA) data when computing average county yields for the purposes of the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program.

“The commodity program is critical for a number of reasons,” said Noem. “First and foremost, it provides an important safety net to producers. Additionally, by building safety-net programs, like ARC-County, into the budget rather than doing crisis-by-crisis emergency spending, we can better predict financial needs and avoid deficit spending. The 2014 Farm Bill made a number of important reforms to the program, but improvements are needed to make sure it functions as intended. I’m optimistic the adjustments included in our legislation will make this critical safety net stronger and fairer.”

The 2014 Farm Bill included two new programs for covered commodities, Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and ARC. During the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA elected to prioritize county yield data from its National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) to determine the yield variable for ARC.  Unfortunately, NASS relies upon surveys sent to producers for their information, making it a less reliable method than other data sources, such as RMA.

H.R.4654 would direct the Secretary to prioritize RMA, or crop insurance, data in counties where RMA offers county-wide insurance products. Additionally, the legislation codifies the USDA’s earlier decision to operate the program based on the physical location of the base acres, rather than requiring producers to elect one county for all payments.

This is the fourth Farm Bill proposal Rep. Noem has introduced this Congress. Additionally, she has introduced:

  • Donations in Rough Years (DRY) Act, which would permanently allow the hay harvested on certain CRP acres to be donated to ranchers suffering from drought or fire.
  • Wetland Determinations Efficiency and Transparency Act, which would address the backlog of wetland determinations and enact permanent reforms that make the determination process more efficient, accountable and transparent.
  • Fair CRP Payments Act, which would ensure CRP rental payments accurately reflect the current cost of renting farm ground.
  • American Prairie Conservation Act, which would expand sodsaver protections nationwide.

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