The House Ag Committee series of Farm Bill field hearings made its way to western Illinois a couple of weeks ago and Indiana farmer David Howell was there to provide input from the perspective of a fruit and vegetable grower. Howell was asking for action on federal law that restricts raising those crops on program acres.
“We’re just asking that they let us have an acre for acre substitution in on soybean or corn ground to grow those fruits and vegetables, and it looks like it’s a pretty good possibility. In fact we had it in the super committee last fall, we had it won, but now we’ve taken a step back and we’ll just have to work through it.”
Howell told HAT 3 of the 5 representatives expressed their support. He also spoke about crop insurance for fruit and vegetable growers, but another topic addressed by Chairman Frank Lucas alarmed him.
There has been discussion about linking conservation compliance to crop insurance. Howell is concerned about the idea of crop insurance payments coming only after a grower gets a conservation clean bill of health.
“I’m all for conservation and support that very wholeheartedly, but to tie the two together and let local conservation employees have total control over whether insurance payments are coming, when we have farmer experience over often times no experience on how to take care of a crop, I think that warrants some concern. I would hope that people would investigate that and think about responding whichever way they feel about it.”
And is Chairman Lucas supportive of the idea?
“He thought that was very likely. You get what you subsidize or there had to be a tit for tat. If you’re going to get paid you’re going to have to comply. Well I understand but I think the unintended consequences of that could be disastrous.”
Read Howell’s full testimony online. The final field hearing is April 20 in Dodge City, Kansas.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/04/David-Howell-at-Farm-Bill-Hearing.mp3|titles=David Howell at Farm Bill Hearing]