Today, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R- Ga., former chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, voted against final passage of S.3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012. Below is his statement:
"While I commend Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts for their efforts, as I weighed this bill's impact on Georgia and the Southeast, I was simply unable to support it in its present form.
"This bill contains significant reform with the elimination of direct payments, and makes several improvements to crop insurance. I have always been an advocate of risk management tools delivered through the private sector. But this bill seeks to establish a one-size-fits-all program rather than recognizing the limitations of crop insurance for certain regions of the country, namely the Southeast. The new commodity title program, the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program will provide corn and soybean growers in the Midwest with a minimal band of revenue protection while leaving producers of other crops in other regions very little protection and certainty. If this bill were to become law without significant changes, producers in the Southeast would be left without an effective safety net.
"Crop insurance is a tool that addresses risk in an individual crop year. It does not work as a safety net by insuring against multiple-year price declines, nor is it a cure-all for a commodity market that can expand and contract based on the vagaries of weather, disease and international events. That is why farm policy in the past encouraged programs such as the marketing loan and the counter-cyclical program to work with, not in competition with, crop insurance.
"This bill still lacks the regional balance I have advocated for the past several months. It is still my hope to support the bill at the end of the legislative process, perhaps after action by the House of Representatives and a conference of the two chambers.
"We must remember that the farm bill should help farmers and ranchers manage a combination of challenges largely out of their own control. We also must remember that it is not an entitlement for any one region or commodity. This bill needs to serve all producers in all parts of the country equitably and effectively. I look forward working with my colleagues to improve this bill in the weeks ahead."