American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman wants delegates at the group's upcoming annual meeting in Honolulu to provide clear direction on farm policy. The delegates are expected to engage in a spirited debate on a safety net recommendation for the 2012 Farm Bill that omits any reference to direct and counter-cyclical payments.
Instead, Stallman says they'll be asked to endorse a catastrophic revenue loss program.
"We think that moving forward with the Systemic Risk Reduction Program as we tentatively outlined as the way to go in terms of our future farm policy," Stallman said. "It's scalable, it's a lot simpler and not as complex for administration, it has the opportunity to be consistent across all commodities."
The program currently envisioned involves taxpayers picking up most of the cost of revenue-based crop insurance policies for farmers that would cover losses of more than 30%.
"That's the number that we've asked to be scored by CBO," Stallman said. "Our program is scalable so a lot of it depends on how the score comes back as to what exactly percentage levels of coverage are there. We obviously want to design it to make it as good a program as possible but we also realize that that is going to have to be in the context of whatever budget allocations are provided."
The Systemic Risk Reduction proposal enjoys broad but not unanimous support within the nation's largest farm organization. Some Farm Bureau members in the southern U.S. argue that moving to revenue protection would leave them without an effective safety net.