House and Senate negotiators have struck a transportation deal and it contains a reversal of federal crop insurance cuts. The five year, $300 billion Highway and Mass Transit bill averts a $3 billion cut to crop insurance funding that agriculture lawmakers charge was slipped in to the bipartisan budget deal last month.
National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson says Congressional leaders held true to their promise.
“They reversed the $3 billion in cuts to crop insurance and they did that in accordance with the promise that the Republican leadership in the House and the Senate had agreed to restore that $3 billion in cuts to crop insurance. And they also agreed that when they restored it, it would not come out of other agriculture programs.”
The money for the key farm risk management system was reportedly restored by using Federal Reserve dividend payments to large banks. Central Bank funds were used to pay for the larger Highway-Transit bill.
Johnson says the crop insurance fix helps protect the farm bill, but does not guarantee it will not be reopened.
“There’s never anything that’s done for sure in this town,” he said. “So I wouldn’t say that we’re safe forever and that this farm bill is never going to be touched, but insofar as this budget cycle, I believe that the Republican leadership is keeping their word. They demonstrated that in this latest provision in the transportation bill. And I have every expectation that they will keep their word not to allow any other cuts to come back into crop insurance or other parts of the farm bill.”
Johnson says agriculture still needs to keep an eye on a massive funding bill next week that’s needed to keep the government open. He doubts that leadership wants its fingerprints on Farm Bill cuts in that bill and suggests it will be difficult to open the bill to a myriad of floor amendments.
Source: NAFB News Service