U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre, a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, announced that the committee has approved the 2012 Farm Bill which includes key components for North Carolina farmers.
Congressman McIntyre stated, "Agriculture is a mainstay of the North Carolina economy, and it is important that our farmers have polices that they can plan on, depend on, and that work for the crops we grow and produce. This Farm Bill does that, and I will continue to do all I can to help improve this bill and get it signed into law for North Carolina farmers and agri-businesses. "
A number of key policies were included in the House Farm Bill as a result of Congressman McIntyre's advocacy.
* Livestock Insurance: Congressman McIntyre worked to successfully expand a provision in the bill to provide livestock producers with the risk management tool necessary to create a predictable business environment needed for growth. The program, called the Livestock Gross Margin Insurance Program, allows producers to insure against the pressures placed on their operation by rising feed costs brought on by the increasing price of corn. The size of the program needed to be expanded to accommodate the needs of pork operations in the state of North Carolina.
* Poultry Business Interruption Insurance: Congressman McIntyre authored legislation that was included in the Farm Bill to study the feasibility of an insurance product for poultry producers to purchase to control the risks brought on by integrator bankruptcy. Economic challenges of rising feed costs and decreased poultry consumption from the lagging economy have resulted in bankruptcies for poultry integrators that contract with growers in North Carolina. This creates unique challenges for poultry growers who rely on ongoing integrator relationships that have been established over many years. When an integrator goes under, the growers that have contracted with that integrator are often left with no market for the chickens or turkeys that they are raising.
* Safety Net for Peanut Producers: Congressman McIntyre worked with Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson to include a traditional price-triggered counter cyclical type farm safety net program as an option for producers that sets a statutory target price for peanuts. The crop insurance program does not function effectively for peanut growers which is why a yield focused revenue program fails to provide adequate protection. The backstop of a program based on a standard target price provides an option that gives the predictability peanut growers need and cannot attain from other policies considered in the Farm Bill process.
* Supplement Insurance for Cotton: Congressman McIntyre worked with Committee members to include the Stacked Income Protection Plan, a policy that serves as a supplemental insurance option for cotton producers that opt to participate. The policy, often referred to as the STAX Program, will allow cotton producers to control against severe downside losses through federal crop insurance while maintaining the ability to address shallow losses through the STAX program.
* Enhancements for Peanut Insurance: With peanut producers looking for better ways to manage their risks, Congressman McIntyre worked to successfully include a provision to tie the peanut crop insurance program to the Rotterdam internationally traded price of peanuts. This reform would, for the first time, give peanuts a reliable price discovery mechanism to signal movements in prices and the market. The Rotterdam price reflects global trends in the production and consumption of the commodity and is a viable reference that can be used in the federal crop insurance program.
* Livestock Disaster Program: Congressman McIntyre worked with the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee to include a full reauthorization of the Livestock Indemnity Program, an important tool to help livestock producers survive disaster events that cause livestock deaths in excess of normal mortality caused by adverse weather. This program, which is an integral component of the agricultural safety net, will be reauthorized to provide a backstop to producers who experience severe hardship.
* Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act: Legislation that Congressman McIntyre cosponsored was included in the Farm Bill which to eliminate costly and duplicative permitting requirements for pesticide applications. Pesticides are vital to modern agricultural productions.
* Energy Efficiency: Congressman McIntyre was able to include in the bill a provision to enable the Rural Utilities Service at USDA to help finance energy efficiency projects throughout the country. This effort is inspired by a pilot project that was implemented by Brunswick EMC as a part of the "recovery through retrofit" effort at USDA. The Brunswick EMC project was a broad based energy efficiency project that served as one of the models for this new energy efficiency authority in the Farm Bill.
* Whole Farm Insurance Policy: Congressman McIntyre was able to include to the Farm Bill a policy that, for the first time, will allow for whole farm insurance. Under this policy, diversified farms will have the option to insure their entire operations with one policy instead of purchasing many different policies for the variety of crops they grow or agricultural endeavors they undertake. The policy will result in no additional cost to the federal government, will lower costs for producers and increase efficiencies in specialty crop insurance by allowing producers a no hassle option for insuring against risks.
* Specialty Crop Enhancements: North Carolina is one of the most diverse agricultural states in the nation, with production in over 80 different commodities utilizing over 8.6 million acres of farmland. Congressman McIntyre worked to ensure that a number of key priorities for the specialty crop industry were included in the Farm Bill. Particularly, Congressman McIntyre worked to include funding for the Plant Pest and Disease Program and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program -- two important tools that are fueling the growth of the specialty crop industry in the state of North Carolina.
In addition, Congressman McIntyre led the effort to try and increase funding to address the water and wastewater infrastructure needs of rural communities.
The 2012 Farm Bill that was passed by the House Agriculture Committee makes a number of changes to our nation's agricultural policies by reforming farm programs, nutrition programs, and conservation policies. The bill saves $35 billion dollars over the course of the next ten years.
Congressman McIntyre worked with Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson to craft the producer choice risk management option included in the House bill. Under the House crafted Farm Bill, producers will be able to choose between a Price Loss Coverage risk management tool and a Revenue Loss Coverage risk management tool. The Price Loss Coverage is a counter cyclical target price program and is a risk management tool better suited for North Carolina and southern agricultural production.