Following the passage of a farm bill by the Senate Agriculture Committee last week -- a bill that Sen. Mike Johanns voted against -- he has offered and cosponsored several amendments which Johanns says he hopes will improve the bill.
"This farm bill is not the bill I would have written, but, inaddition to the troubling aspects of the bill, there are several provisionsthat I believe are a good step for American ag policy," Johanns said. "Theamendments I'm offering and cosponsoring address the areas I have the mostconcern with in an attempt to make farm policy more fair, more market orientedand find additional savings for ranchers, farmers and taxpayers."
One of the amendments offered by Johanns would eliminate the special minimum price protection for rice and peanut producers. He says this amendment would ensure fairness to all producers by using the same payment formula for all commodity crops.
Another amendment introduced by Johanns would require the chief economist to issue annual reports on the impact and interaction of the Agriculture Risk Coverage program with other farm programs, such as crop insurance and the new supplemental coverage option.
A third amendment would look to prevent the double regulation of certain pesticides. Producers would no longer need to obtain a permit from the EPA for pesticides already regulated by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
Johanns also offered an amendment that would prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to pay foreign farmers. According to Johanns, the U.S. has made$147 million in annual payments to Brazilian cotton farmers so the UnitedStates can delay changing market-distorting cotton programs. He said the U.S. should expect to comply with decisions from the World Trade Organization, the same way we expect others to comply.
The last amendment offered by Johanns would look to close a loophole in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The amendment would prevent states from automatically enrolling individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for the program. According to Johanns, the amendment would not affect individuals who actually qualify for the program.
In addition to the above amendments offered by Johanns, he cosponsors many others:
- ProhibitEPA from releasing data on livestock producers.
- Limitfederal payments to high-income farmers.
- Repealmarket-distorting target prices and put reference prices for rice and peanutsback in the Ag Risk Coverage program with other commodity crops, similar to thebipartisan farm bill last year.
- Eliminatethe double payment available only to peanut farmers. Farmers have an annuallimit on amount of payments, but if the same farmer grows peanuts, they canreceive double the payment amount.
- Helpbeginning and veteran farmers.