As Promised, outgoing House Speaker John Boehner helped push a budget deal through the House that, in his words, was an effort to not “leave the barn full of you know what.” The budget agreement reached between Congressional leaders and the White House passed the House late Wednesday; and thanks to quick work by the House and Senate agriculture committees, the budget will not include cuts to crop insurance, as intended, but only in a round-about way. Congressional leaders told members concerned about the crop insurance programs they hope to address the issue in an omnibus spending bill. That means the cuts are still included in the budget agreement, but will be removed in a later bill. That’s the best that could happen given no amendments were allowed to the bill. Senate leaders have promised to quickly move the bill through the upper chamber. The agreement would push the next budget battle beyond the 2016 election cycle. The deal got a boost of support early Wednesday, according to Politico, when Paul Ryan announced he would support the agreement. The House is set to vote Ryan into the House Speaker role Thursday.
Meanwhile, farm groups are keeping the pressure on lawmakers to protect crop insurance. “Members of Congress need to reject any attempt to cut crop insurance or any other farm program,” said Kendell Culp, an ISA director and farmer from Jasper County. Culp also sits on the American Soybean Association Board of Directors. He stated, “In my area, we had record rains this spring and some of the worst crops in a generation. Indiana’s farm economy is simply not in the shape it was even just a couple of years ago when the farm bill was approved. Cutting crop insurance, our last line of defense against a bad crop year, is reckless.”
Indiana corn growers, along with the National Corn Growers Association, are also voicing strong opposition to any cuts. “Farmers need a stronger safety net, not a weaker one; and now is not the time to leave farmers in a terrible situation by weakening investment in the crop insurance program,” said Sarah Delbecq, an ICGA director and farmer from DeKalb County. Delbecq, who serves on the National Corn Growers Association Public Policy Action Team, which advocated for the current farm bill, stated, “Farmers willingly gave up direct payments during good economic times. We can’t allow the federal government to abandon us when times are tough in the farm economy.”
Indiana Farmers Union (INFU) President Jim Benham urged Members of Congress to reject the shortsighted cuts in crop insurance delivery rates. “Attacks on crop insurance are increasing in frequency,” said Benham. “As larger segments of the population are further and further removed from agriculture, the value of this safety net program is less and less understood.”