WASHINGTON–Reimbursement rates for selling crop insurance policies would be reduced and anti-rebating laws tightened under a compromise measure extending farm subsidy programs expected to be passed by Congress this week.
The House passed the bill yesterday by a veto-proof margin of 318-106, and the Senate was expected to follow suit.
“The 2008 Farm Bill is certainly not perfect, but it is an essential piece of legislation for America’s farmers and our entire agricultural industry,” said Charles Symington, senior vice president of government affairs, for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.
The bill cuts the funds given companies by more than $800 million, or 2.3 percent.
Companies use part of these funds to pay agents, according to John Prible, assistant vice president of federal government affairs for the IIABA. But it does include language sought by the agents’ industry repealing premium reduction plans that had threatened to impose even greater cuts over time in agents’ commissions.
Premium reduction plans were imposed starting in 2001 as a means of reducing administrative costs of the crop insurance program over time, but agents were successful in persuading the Senate to kill the provision in its version of the bill earlier this year. The final legislation contains the provision.
Mr. Symington said that while the IIABA wants to maintain the current funding, it understands Congress incorporated this cut in order to protect the integrity of the program in the future and as part of the effort to get a final farm bill passed by both chambers.
The overall bill provides $289 billion over 5 years for farm subsidies and urban aid program, and is being passed under a veto threat issued by the White House. The White House opposes the bill, arguing that it is stuffed with wasteful handouts to wealthy farmers, but it has broad support in Congress.