Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Fairness Amendment

An independent analysis by leading agricultural economists this month shows that the commodity provisions of a Farm Bill reform proposal rejected by the House Agriculture Committee, called "Farm 21," would save $21 billion in government spending over five years.

See the report (.pdf) from the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI).

The commodity provisions of "Farm 21" would reduce net farm revenue by $19 billion over five years, but the farmers would make some of this money back in reduced rent to non-farmer landowners. Farmers would also benefit from other provisions of the proposal that were not counted in this estimate, including improvements to nutrition and conservation programs.

The "Farm 21" proposal makes sense to strong proponents of Farm Bill reform, but even with the rental savings, increased demand through nutrition programs, and conservation payments, it is easy to see why it has been a hard sell in farm communities. As a consequence, the proposal's long-time sponsor, Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), has recently been working with other legislators on a more "politically practicable" amendment to the largely non-reformist bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee last week.

Early reports suggest the new "Fairness Amendment" preserves some of the strong reform elements, gives ground on others, and incorporates some administration reform themes for bipartisan appeal (see FarmPolicy and the Ruminant). Keep an eye on the Fairness Amendment as the Farm Bill approaches an unusual struggle on the floor of the House.

No comments: