I have been hearing a lot of talk being thrown around about opening up the farm bill or getting started on the next one early. Secretary Villsac has come out and said that we should consider bringing back some old Farm Bill features. I figure if he can talk about things that will never happen so can I.
There are many things that I like about the current Farm Bill. It has freed us up from some long-standing market distorting subsidies that have been blamed for doing more harm than good for many years. This new safety net style Farm Bill gives us a leg up in international trade negotiations. Although it would seem our negotiators haven’t figured this out yet but that’s a dead horse for another day. My biggest complaint would be that this Farm Bill did not cure the age-old problem of support driving over production and overproduction driving down prices that make more support necessary. This downward spiral has plagued agriculture support programs from the beginning.
I think there is a way to break the cycle. What I would like to see is a voluntary conservation layout program. A program that allows producers to voluntarily layout a percentage of their acreage in exchange for a higher revenue insurance price point. Each year the program would be adjusted based on the previous year’s carryout. So there it is, farm bill fixed. Now the farmers are happy because they are getting an equitable price for their crops and the public is happy because we aren’t wasting resources on overproduction or tax money on industry bailouts.