A new farm bill will be enacted and implemented over the next four years during a time of significant evolution in agriculture. What policy and risk management tools do you propose to ensure that agriculture is a profitable, competitive and viable industry?
I understand the need for a strong farm safety net. That’s why I increased the availability of crop insurance and emergency disaster assistance to help over 590,000 farmers and ranchers keep their farms in business after natural disasters and crop loss. My administration expanded farm credit to help more than 100,000 farmers struggling during the financial crisis to keep their family farms and provide for their families. And as farmers continue to go through hard times because of this drought, we are expanding access to low-interest loans, encouraging insurance companies to extend payment deadlines and opening new lands for livestock farmers to graze their herds.
And I know that any farm bill passed this year – and there needs to be a farm bill passed this year – needs to have adequate protections for America’s farmers. That’s why I have called for maintaining a strong crop insurance program and an extended disaster assistance program. We can reduce the deficit without sacrificing rural American economic growth, as the Romney-Ryan budget would do. Instead of making farmer pay more for crop insurance, we will do it by cutting subsidies to crop insurance companies and better targeting conservation funding.
I support passage of a strong farm bill that provides the appropriate risk management tools that will work for farmers and ranchers throughout the country. In the near term, my immediate priority should be given to enacting disaster relief for those not traditionally covered by crop insurance as this year’s drought has worsened. My running mate, Paul Ryan, voted for this relief in the House. Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled Senate went home for August break without enacting them.
On the broader question of farm programs, we must be cognizant that our agricultural producers are competing with other nations around the world. Other nations subsidize their farmers, so we must be careful not to unilaterally change our policies in a way that would disadvantage agriculture here in our country. In addition, we want to make sure that we don’t ever find ourselves in a circumstance where we depend on foreign nations for our food the way we do with energy. Ultimately, it is in everyone’s interest is achieve a level playing field on which American farmers can compete.