House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway released his version of the farm bill Thursday. Conaway says the farm bill won’t do away with the ARC program as an individual option, but ARC isn’t an annual election-it’s a five-year deal.
“The data on which ARC County payment system would work, we’re going to RMA data, because we believe it’s more accurate. We’re hopeful it will address odd circumstances where there were desperate payments between counties that were contiguous to each other, because the data wasn’t the best. We’re going to use better data.”
Conaway thinks the safety net is adequate moving forward. No new money available makes things challenging. There were parts of the farm bill he was unable to save. Crop insurance was tightened up a little, but no major changes. However, the House Agriculture Committee did add something new to the bill-a Foot and Mouth Vaccine Bank. The bill has just $150 million in the first year-the industry asked for that total each year for five years.
“The decisions will be made at a much more informed basis as we get a farm bill up and running. I believe the Agriculture Secretary will have the resources to get the program off the ground. Once its up and established, it will be easier to get additional resources. If we don’t need those resources, we won’t spend money we don’t have to spend.”
Conaway confirmed committee markup will happen the week of April 16 and he sees no reason why we can’t get this farm bill done.