Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly announced that he is an original co-sponsor of The Farming Flexibility Act of 2011, H.R. 2675, which would give farmers the flexibility to grow the crops of their choosing. Current farm program rules prevent some farmers from growing fruits and vegetables on base acres that receive direct and counter-cyclical payments. This legislation would give American farmers more certainty by expanding and making permanent the current Farm Flex pilot program, which currently provides select Midwestern farmers with more choices and increased farm income by giving them access to alternative crops.
"In 2008, I fought to make sure the Farm Bill we wrote and passed met the needs of Hoosier farmers, especially the need for farmers to have the flexibility to grow the crops of their choosing," said Donnelly. "I'm proud to continue that effort with my support of The Farming Flexibility Act. We have a proud tradition of farming in Indiana, and this bill would allow farmers both here and across the country to provide for their families and remain competitive with farmers overseas."
When Congress was writing the Farm Bill in 2008, there was a shortage of fruits and vegetables for processing, such as canning and freezing. As a member of the House Committee on Agriculture at the time, Congressman Donnelly spearheaded the inclusion of a highly successful Farm Flex pilot program that allowed farmers in seven Midwestern states, including Indiana, to grow fruits and vegetables for processing on base acres. In turn, those farmers participating forewent any farm program payments on those acres. The Farming Flexibility Act of 2011 would enhance and expand this pilot project by:
* Fully authorizing farming flexibility and eliminating the pilot program,
* Allowing all 50 states the choice of growing fruits and vegetables for processing, and
* Eliminating the acreage cap contained in the pilot project.
In addition to giving American farmers the alternatives they need, The Farming Flexibility Act of 2011 would cut government spending and reduce the federal deficit because it eliminates federal subsidies for the acres devoted to fruits and vegetables for processing. Further, the bill is supported by the American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition.