Small farmers who sell their products locally are eligible for a new micro-farm policy, said the Risk Management Agency, which oversees the federally subsidized crop insurance system. The policy, which simplifies recordkeeping and covers post-production costs, is available for 2022 crops.
Congress traditionally enacts the farm policy bills covering the gamut from crop subsidies to food stamps at the urging of a coalition of farm, conservation and anti-hunger groups. A former USDA official said the 2023 farm bill could be in peril if there is a repetition of the political turbulence that temporarily derailed the omnibus legislation twice in the eight years.
After slowing with the collapse of the commodity boom nearly a decade ago, the conversion of grassland to row crops is accelerating in the Great Plains of the United States and Canada, said the World Wildlife Fund.
When crop insurance indemnities and unemployment benefits are counted, the government sent $57.7 billion to farm operations and farm households in 2020, while the pandemic sent the U.S. economy into recession, said a working paper by USDA economists. It was the highest estimate yet of federal assistance to farmers last year and the most inclusive.
Economic concerns are often a driving factor when farmers decide whether to adopt conservation practices such as cover crops or diversified crop rotations, said the AGree farm policy initiative in a paper released on Wednesday. The paper called for more coordination of conservation practices with the taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance system.
Farmers from Georgia to California told a House Agriculture subcommittee on Wednesday that the foundation of the 2023 farm bill should be the taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance system. They also expressed interest in the creation of a standby disaster relief fund.
Robert Bonnie, named USDA climate adviser on the same day President Biden took office, will soon be in charge of all farm support programs, from land stewardship to farm subsidies and crop insurance, if confirmed by the Senate. Biden nominated Bonnie for undersecretary for farm production and conservation, arguably the highest-profile sub-cabinet post at USDA, on Friday.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reached back to his days as a governor to explain why the Trump administration proposed a 31-percent cut in crop insurance funding even if the plan has no traction on Capitol Hill.
This week's White House budget proposal to cut crop insurance by 31 percent and to tighten eligibility rules for farm subsidies would save less in 10 years than the administration spent to mitigate the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war on 2018 and 2019 farm production, said an economist.