The Senate will not hold additional votes on amendments to the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 until they return from the Memorial Day recess. That means the next vote is scheduled for Monday, June 3rd. On Thursday – Senators voted on three crop insurance amendments. An amendment to end crop insurance subsidies for tobacco was rejected 44 to 52. Ninety-four Senators voted to approve an amendment to authorize the use of the insurance fund to reduce fraud and maintain crop insurance program integrity. That amendment was sponsored by North Carolina’s Kay Hagan. Senators also agreed to an amendment from Dick Durbin of Illinois and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma to limit premium subsidies for those with an average adjusted gross income above 750-thousand dollars. The vote was 59 to 33.
Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow urged Senators to vote against the Durbin-Coburn amendment. She said it would raise premium costs by 40-percent for the affected farmers and would reduce the amount of acreage that must comply with federal conservation standards. According to an analysis of the amendment from former USDA Chief Economist Keith Collins – released by the American Crop Insurers Association Thursday – the affected farmers would be looking at a 37-percent increase in the cost of their premiums if they are buying 70-percent coverage because the amendment would reduce the government’s premium support by 15 points. A farmer purchasing 50-percent coverage – according to the analysis – will see a 45-percent increase.
The vote for the Durbin-Coburn amendment wasn’t just a defeat for the crop insurance industry – but also for the coalition of farm and conservation groups that reached the agreement to link crop insurance to conservation compliance with no income restrictions on subsidies. Other groups – like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition – supported the amendment.
Source: NAFB News Service