Sen. Brown Attends First Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing to Discuss 2012 Farm Bill

Brown Calls for Strengthening of ACRE Program and Reforms to Protect Ohio’s Dairy Industry from Rising Costs and Unfair Pricing

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) attended a hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry today, the first in a series of hearings to reauthorize the Farm Bill in 2012. In his remarks, Brown stressed the wide-reach of the Farm bill, with implications for nutrition, clean energy policy, and rural and economic development.

Brown called for the strengthening of the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program by targeting overall revenue rather than simply price so farmers can receive better protection against swings in prices and natural disasters. Brown authored the ACRE provision which was passed in the 2008 Farm Bill which allows farmers to choose a new safety-net program that protects against drops in yield or prices - critical for farmers given the uncertain and volatile farm economy. He also called for reforms to U.S. dairy policy at a time in which dairy farmers face rising costs of production and unfair pricing practices. 

A copy of Brown's remarks follows, as submitted for the record:

Ohio has a rich history of agriculture and strong rural communities.  As the Senate Agriculture Committee begins its work on this critical legislation, I look forward to continuing to improve the programs that help serve Ohio’s farmers, foods banks, schools, and promote alternative energy initiatives. The Farm Bill touches more than just agriculture and Ohio’s farmers; it also makes strides in the fight against hunger, encourages renewable energy and sustainable conservation practices, and is a driver for rural and economic development.

I am eager to work with the Senate Agriculture Committee and Secretary Vilsack to review and form farm policy that further enhances a robust and flourishing agricultural sector. 

To do so, we need to strengthen the ACRE (Average Crop Revenue Election) Program so it is more beneficial to farmers and is more widely taken advantage of.  Senators Durbin, Harkin and I worked to include this program in the 2008 Farm Bill.  The ACRE program was designed to help farmers when prices are high but yields are low – resulting in a revenue shortfall.  By targeting overall revenue rather than simply price, farmers can receive better protection against swings in prices and natural disasters.  I believe that by strengthening this program we can see more stability for farmers.  Farmers in Ohio, and across the Midwest, should continue to have the opportunity to choose an alternative safety-net if it better allows them to manage their farm’s risk in today’s uncertain and evolving farm environment.

We also need to reform our nation’s current dairy policy.  More than ever, Ohio’s dairy farmers are facing rising costs of production and disadvantageous pricing practices during challenging economic times.  Ohio’s dairy industry deserves strong reforms that match the role they play in the economic success of their small towns and communities.

Overall, we need to ensure that US agriculture policy works for all of our nation’s farmers.  The 2012 Farm Bill needs to be more equitable and touch a more widespread faction of farmers to truly make an impact on our country’s agriculture industry and rural communities.  As the first Ohioan in over 40 years to serve on the Agriculture Committee, I share the commitment of my colleagues to make certain that our nation’s farmers are well-served in this undertaking.
                     
Brown chairs the U.S. Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition, and Family Farms. He is the first Ohioan in more than 40 years to serve on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.

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