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Senate Farm Bill Likely By This Weekend

Photo courtesy of Andrew Starwarz/Flickr

According to Montana Farmer’s Union Lobbyist Chris Christiaens, Montana senior Senator Max Baucus and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow have reported that the Senate version of the farm bill should be completed by late Friday, June 7.

One of the big changes being discussed this week is the incorporation of anew type of risk coverage program called the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, or “ARC.”

At meetings last week, some Montana farmers expressed confusion over the proposed program. Christiaens and the Montana Farmer’s Union have also taken a position against ARC.

“The way this thing works is that, at the very outset of the farm program, as a producer, I would make an irrevocable choice,” said Christiaens, explaining what he see as the ARC system’s biggest flaw.

“It gets really convoluted and pretty difficult,” Christaens said.

The way ARCs payment system is structured, there are lots of questions for farmers who own multiple tracts of land in multiple counties. This makes that original choice even more difficult to make.

“You could have one county declared a disaster, as we have had in past years, and have others that were not disasters, so how do you determine what your crop payment is supposed to be?” Christaens said.

ARC is unlikely to take effect any time soon though. Even after the Senate is finished with the farm bill, the House will likely not look at it until June and may not finish negotiations until August.

Chris Christiaens

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