Potato Grower

November 2017

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But ag policy experts expect crop insurance to be a major target for legislators looking for cuts. "Our opposition wants to cut the discount that farmers get on their premiums and make cuts to the private sector delivery," says Tara Smith, vice president of federal affairs at Michael Torrey Associates, LLC, an ag lobbying firm based in Washington. "A lot of folks want to add means testing to crop insurance. We know how to get the facts out there to defend against those changes." Those same kinds of amendments have been floating around for a long time, Thatcher says. While working to defeat them, Farm Bureau is working on other strategies, too, including a private policy for dairy revenue insurance. Farm Bureau also hopes to take the $20 million cap off the Livestock Gross Margin Insurance Plan. "It includes Whole-Farm Revenue Protection under that cap," Thatcher says. "We're trying to remove the cap so more people can be covered by it." CONSERVATION PROGRAMS Conservation programs—now about 6 percent of the farm bill budget—will also have to compete to maintain funding levels; disparate farm interests are joining that debate. "You see some unusual partnerships coming together, such as conservation interests and crop insurance interests, realizing it's in all of our interest to work together to preserve these baselines," says Peterson. Meanwhile, there's concern about the new administration's emphasis on budget cuts. "I see the need for the priorities this administration is talking about," says John Larson, senior vice president of policy and programs at American Farmland Trust. "Fiscal responsibility is important, but not at the expense of our natural environment and the long-term ability for us to produce food, feed, fiber and fuel." Larson hopes to see a balance of those needs. "Part of the new administration's platform was a regulatory reform approach, which I agree with, but with a caveat: If we don't have a regulatory push toward protecting the natural resource-based building blocks of life, then we need to do something," says Larson. "That's where Title II of the farm bill, the conservation title, comes in. We're really hoping that Congress will keep conservation a focal point and fund programs at a level that can accomplish a voluntary incentive-based approach to natural resource conservation." WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 15

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