Morris testifies at farm bill hearing

Released: May 21, 2012

TIFTON, Ga.– Georgia Peanut Commission Chairman Armond Morris testified in the U.S. House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management hearing on the 2013 Farm Bill: Commodity Programs and Crop Insurance. Morris, who also serves as chairman of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, spoke on behalf of the Commission, the Alabama Peanut Producers Association, the Florida Peanut Producers Association and the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association.  

Morris began his testimony affirming the need for a bill encompassing all American agricultural commodities. “The debate today in Congress is whether we will have a farm bill that works for one or two regions of the country, and one or two crops, or a national farm bill that works for all regions of the country, and all crops,” Morris says.

Morris was joined by eight witnesses comprised of commodity organizations and crop insurance leaders.  The House Agriculture Committee has held eight hearings focusing on agricultural programs in the past month. Morris continued by pointing out the need for grower options if direct payments are eliminated. “If we eliminate direct payments, what will work for peanut producers?,” he says. “After conferring with the University of Georgia’s National Center for Peanut Competitiveness (NCPC) over the last nine months, we believe producers need a policy choice to manage risk-- revenue protection, price protection, and crop insurance.”

Nearing the completion of the hearing U.S. Representative Michael Conaway, R-Texas, chairman of the subcommittee, acknowledged the need to protect our nation’s farmers. “The clear message from the hearing is that farmers need price protection. If prices collapse, we can't have policy that collapses right along with them creating a crisis in farm country and calls for expensive, unbudgeted bailouts in Washington,” Conaway says. “In a few weeks, the House Agriculture Committee will begin crafting a farm bill that is both fair and fiscally responsible to all producers across all regions of the country.” 

The Southern Peanut Farmers Federation does not support the current Senate Agriculture Committee bill on Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC). The NCPC has done extensive research on the impact of ARC on peanut producers in the U.S. and has found that ARC does not work for peanut growers. U.S. Senators and members of the Senate Agriculture Committee Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and John Boozman, R-Ark., voted against the Senate Bill in Committee. The Federation is working with these senators and other members of the Senate to try and get the 2013 Farm Bill to a place where it works for Southern peanut growers.  
No floor time has been set aside in the Senate for the farm bill. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to mark-up their bill in June.


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