Senators Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) today introduced The Farming Flexibility Act of 2013 (Farm Flex), legislation that would benefit Indiana specialty crop producers and save taxpayer dollars. The Farm Flex legislation would permanently implement a current pilot program that allows farmers to voluntarily forgo federal subsidies and opt out of restrictions on fruit and vegetable production so they can produce specialty crops to meet growing market demands. “This bill is a win for Hoosier farmers and American taxpayers,” said Coats. “Our legislation would provide farmers the flexibility they need to respond to market signals when making planting decisions, rather than be restricted by federal rules to grow a particular crop. The Farm Flex plan is a successful, tested, market-based program that has proven to save taxpayer dollars. By expanding this program nationwide and making it permanent, we can empower crop producers and farmers to have more control over their businesses without the government playing an unnecessary role in agriculture.”
“I am proud to join my friend Senator Dan Coats in introducing this common sense legislation that gives Indiana’s fruit and vegetable farmers the flexibility they need to make the best planting decisions,” said Donnelly. “I fought for the inclusion of the Farm Flex program in the 2008 Farm Bill, and as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I look forward to working on a five-year farm bill that gives Indiana’s rural communities the certainty they deserve.”
Until the 2008 Farm Bill, the planting of fruits, vegetables and wild rice on program crop base acres was prohibited. The Farm Flex pilot program, which is set to expire on September 30, 2013, currently provides farmers in seven states the ability to waive federal subsidies and the restrictions tied to those subsidies in order to produce specialty crops like fruits and vegetables.
The program has successfully incentivized the local production of fruits and vegetables and saved taxpayer dollars due to producers forgoing federal subsidies. The Coats-Donnelly legislation would extend the program to all 50 states.