Moran glad amendment on alfalfa passes Senate
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS, spoke on the Senate floor about his amendment to the farm bill, which directs the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to conduct research and development regarding a policy to insure alfalfa, and issue a report describing the results of the study.
Moran’s amendment, which is budget neutral, passed the Senate by a vote of 72-to-18.
“Alfalfa is the nation’s fourth most valuable crop and it plays a significant role in our daily lives as a building blocks for milk and meat,” Moran said. “We need to take a good hard look at alfalfa and recognize its value to our country. We must study and develop something that works, saves the taxpayer money, and makes certain the land of plenty remains. I am pleased my colleagues joined me in supporting the development of a risk management tool for alfalfa production so producers can enjoy lower input costs and consumers can enjoy less expensive products on the grocery store shelves.”
Alfalfa is key to sustainable agricultural systems and its value for nitrogen fixation, soil conservation, crop rotation, and wildlife habitat is unsurpassed. Alfalfa is also a major driver in high feed prices for dairy and cattle operations and hits the consumer on the grocery store shelf.
Although alfalfa is one of Americas most valuable crops—behind only corn, soybean and wheat—the safety net for alfalfa pales in comparison. In fact, alfalfa has seen a decline in acres that can, in part, be attributed to bankers telling producers to plant program crops rather than alfalfa due to no safety net for the crop. From 2002-2011, alfalfa acreage declined 15.7 percent and in 2012 alone, there was an additional decline of 10 percent.
Moran said the current crop insurance program, Forage Production APH, is inadequate; less than 10 percent of the acreage is enrolled in the program while enrollment for corn, soybean and wheat are all more than 80 percent. In addition, the program is only available in 23 states and limited counties in some of those states. He believes it is essential that alfalfa has good crop insurance options available similar to the other major crops.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency is supportive of alfalfa insurance but is currently prohibited from working on research and development without this amendment. Moran’s amendment directing RMA to research and develop a crop insurance product that works for alfalfa will eventually allow producers to plant alfalfa and manage their risk.
This will give animal agriculture less expensive inputs and allow farms to diversify their production, he said, adding the consumer will be provided with a less expensive and more abundant food supply.