Farmers could sign up for federal farm programs just once during the next farm bill under legislation introduced this week by U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood.
HR 4904, the Lessening Regulatory Burdens on our Farmers Act, would amend the 2014 farm bill. The legislation, rooted in Illinois Farm Bureau policy, would allow USDA’s Farm Service Agency to automatically renew enrollment each year. No additional sign-ups would be required unless business changes to the farming operation occur.
“Our farmers are busy enough as it is without having to deal with more burdensome government red tape,” said LaHood, R-Dunlap. “This bill is a commonsense way to keep both our agriculture safety net strong, and streamline the requirements when signing up for ARC or PLC.”
Farmers across Illinois suggested simplifying the farm program sign-up process during IFB farm bill work sessions last year. Many farmers described the current process, which requires enrollment every year, as time-consuming and complicated.
“We farm for landlords who live all over the state and even out of state,” said Steve Turner, a Cass County farmer. “Paperwork requires original signatures, which means we mail the contract, wait for the signature, sometimes need to make follow-up calls, and then drive the completed paperwork to the FSA office. Multiply that times six or seven landlords, and you get a sense of the time commitment and for how the process can bog down. This bill really helps to simplify things.”
Delegates unanimously supported a one-time program sign-up during IFB’s Annual Meeting in December, adding language to the organization’s policy book. American Farm Bureau Federation delegates adopted IFB’s policy language in January.
“Illinois Farm Bureau is grateful to Congressman LaHood for sponsoring this bill,” said IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. “It represents a commonsense approach that will streamline this important process for thousands of our farmer members.”