House passes budget, crop insurance cuts to be avoided
The House passed H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, today by a vote of 266-167, receiving unanimous support from the Democrats and earning 79 Republican votes.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., announced there had been an agreement to avoid the cuts to crop insurance which are included in the budget deal.
“I want to thank my colleagues who have made it very clear over the last 24 hours that the attempt to gut crop insurance in the budget agreement was not acceptable,” Conaway said.
“Leadership has heeded our concerns by agreeing to completely reverse this disastrous provision in the upcoming omnibus,” he said. “Crop insurance is working as intended, and private industry deserves to be lauded, not thrown under the bus.”
“I take our leadership at their word when they committed to me and many of my colleagues that we will eliminate these harmful provisions in the not-so-distant future,” Conaway said. “I will continue fighting against policies that hurt our farmers and ranchers, and I am thankful to leadership for working with us to avoid these harmful cuts.”
Peterson said, “I’m pleased that we have an agreement to fix the crop insurance cuts and not open the farm bill. We have assurances that the cuts will be removed and the farm bill will not be raided. We produced a fiscally responsible and bipartisan farm bill in 2014 that saved $23 billion. We’ve done our part.”
The Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau, National Crop Insurance Service, and American Association of Crop Insurers released a statement thanking those who stood up for crop insurance.
“We hope Senate leadership finds a path forward soon to ensure these cuts are not realized,” the groups said.
“Today’s action shows that crop insurance is truly the centerpiece of agricultural risk management and rural America is willing to fight to maintain the crop insurance program. Crop insurers remain committed to providing superior service to our customers — America’s farmers — who desperately need risk management tools to deal with today’s extreme weather and falling crop prices.”
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson voiced cautious optimism over the budget deal, saying the agreement led by the House Agriculture Committee would “remove harmful provisions that would have undermined public-private delivery of crop insurance within the upcoming omnibus package.”
“This will prevent further consolidation of the crop insurance sector, which would have provided less choice for family farmers who depend on this cost-effective safety net program,” Johnson said.
“No one involved in agriculture was consulted when the budget was being negotiated,” said Johnson. “It’s outrageous to think that the agriculture committees were completely left in the dark, but we are thankful that the committee, its members, and other members of Congress stood up for a program that is critical to family farmers.”
–The Hagstrom Report