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May 12, 2017

Budget Battle Could Be Precursor to Farm Bill

 |  By: Mike Opperman

In recent budget negotiations, legislators brought forth budget recommendations for both cotton and dairy programs, among others, In the end, both programs were left on the sidelines.

“The problem was that the Senate insisted on bringing in dairy without identifying a way to pay for it,” Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said on a recent edition of AgriTalk.

So if dairy was left out of this round of budget negotiations, what’s that mean for the upcoming battle for dollars in the next Farm Bill?

“This was not a good precursor to what we are going to have to deal with [in Farm Bill negotiations],” Peterson says. “Hopefully this got it out of our system.”

Peterson says there’s no new money for the Farm Bill and budget numbers will have to be held against the current baseline. Peterson hopes there’s a way to find additional budget. “We saved anywhere from 80 to 105 billion from the 2014 Farm Bill,” Peterson says. “My take is that saving that much money we ought to be in a position to get some of that money back. That would help us fix cotton, help us fix dairy, and I would like us to get some CRP acres back.”

A big part of what will happen in the next Farm Bill centers on a rework of the Margin Protection Program. Peterson says that if more producers used MPP, it would make it easier to make adjustments to the program and keep it in the next Farm Bill.

“The issue is that people aren’t using it,” Peterson says. “Leading up to the Farm Bill we will have had almost no participation in the program. That will be three years of people not using the program.” He’s afraid that opponents will point to the non-use as a reason to kill the program.

One of the issues with fixing MPP is that it needs to be near budget neutral. Peterson says his plan would put the cost of the MPP program at $140 million spread over 10 years. “If we can’t find $14 million per year then I give up,” he says.  

Listen to the full AgriTalk interview below. 

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