For over two years, South Dakota Corn has worked on what has finally become known as the American Agricultural Act of 2014, aka the farm bill. America’s food bill that feeds those in need, ensures access to an abundant and affordable food supply, protects environmentally sensitive lands and encourages renewable energy production.
Yes the farm bill has finally arrived and while the bill is far from perfect, it does accomplish a majority of our organization’s objectives.
Among its specific provisions, the Agricultural Act of 2014:
- Eliminates controversial direct payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs (both price and revenue) that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new World Trade Organization challenges.
- Allows producers to either maintain existing crop acreage base or to reallocate their current base to reflect average acres planted to covered commodities in 2009-2012, a reform that will make programs more relevant and more defensible while not tying them to current-year plantings.
- An option to participate in either the revenue-based Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program or a Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program with fixed reference prices.
- Improvements in the federal crop insurance program to include a Supplemental Coverage Option for area coverage up to 86 percent and the Enterprise Unit Discount Pilot Program becoming a permanent program.
- Consolidates 23 previous conservation programs into 13, and focuses conservation efforts on working lands. Ties conservation compliance for wetlands and highly erodible land to premium support for crop insurance.
- Maintains authorizations for important agricultural research programs, including AFRI, as well as including a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that will provide a structure and mandatory funding for new public/private partnerships and investments that will further USDA’s research mission.
- Maintains authorizations and funding levels for export promotion, including the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program and the Market Access Program (MAP).
- Continues the combined authorization of both agricultural and nutrition programs, a linkage that has been essential in enacting every farm bill since 1974.
- Achieves net savings of $16.6 billion over ten years, primarily from the elimination of guaranteed direct payments, making agriculture the only sector that has contributed to deficit reduction in the 113th Congress.