Senators Eye Changes to Ag Committee’s Farm Bill
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn will try to amend the Senate Agriculture Committee's farm bill in order to cap crop insurance premium subsidies. It's been reported that Coburn's spokeswoman says the Senator is hopeful the Senate will engage in debate and vote on amendments to the measure that would include the Government Accountability Office's recommendations and save taxpayers one-billion dollars. According to the GAO - that would be the annual savings from a 40-thousand dollar cap. The GAO has also said USDA's data mining program could be improved with better coordination between the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and insurance companies.
Coburn - along with Senator Dick Durbin - have told the leaders of the Senate Ag Committee that they support further reforms to the federal crop insurance program that would be consistent with the GAO's findings and recommendations. Coburn and Durbin further stated that further investigation into the efficacy of reducing premium subsidies is warranted. As for those who say crop insurance programs have been cut enough already - Coburn and Durbin say further reductions do not reflect opposition to the program. Instead - they say it's critical to make good programs better to ensure they're performing as intended and are fiscally sound taxpayer investments.
David Graves of the American Association of Crop Insurers says the same types of questions about crop insurance have been raised for over 30 years - and during that time - Congress has expanded the role of federal crop insurance. He says all farmers are subject to forces they can't control - and it's important that all farmers have an opportunity to participate in a program that helps them with those risk factors that are beyond their control.
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