U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, this week said that strengthening crop insurance and reforming farm programs are top priorities for her as the committee works to develop strong risk management tools for farmers. Stabenow's comments came during the final Farm Bill hearing focused on commodity programs and risk management.
"Every planting season, America's farmers take a huge gamble that their investment will pay off -- that the sun, the rain and the markets will come together in just the right combination so they can make a living and support their families," Stabenow said. "We cannot forget that high commodity prices are of absolutely no use to a farmer whose crop was lost in a drought or flood. One storm can wipe out an entire crop and jeopardize a farm in a matter of minutes - whether that crop is cherries in Michigan or wheat in Kansas."
Stabenow also emphasized the need for reforms to farm programs, saying "the era of direct payments is over." She said that farm policy should focus on risk management that helps producers who have suffered a loss on the crops they actually grow.
"I have heard again and again from farmers and ranchers across the country that crop insurance is the most important risk management tool," Stabenow said. "It is absolutely imperative that we get these policies right. Sixteen million people in this country have a job because of agriculture. At our very first hearing, I asked my colleagues to keep those 16 million people in mind, and I ask that again today. The Farm Bill is a jobs bill, and no farmer in America should lose their job, lose their farm, because of bad weather or market conditions beyond their control."
The hearing featured testimony from a range of farmers, commodity groups and other stakeholders unilaterally calling for strengthening risk management tools to continue producing a safe and affordable national food supply.
An archived webcast of the hearing, as well as the chairwoman's opening statement and witness testimony, can be viewed on the committee website at http://ag.senate.gov.