L’importance économique de faire passer un nouveau Farm Bill complet
pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’emploi
Executive Office of the President, The White House
La Chambre des représentants américaine a adopté le 15 janvier dernier la loi de finances 2014 qui, une fois adoptée par le Sénat, mettra fin à trois années d'instabilité budgétaire aux Etats-Unis. Au 15 janvier, la future loi-cadre agricole attendait quant à elle d’être passée, alors que le dernier Farm Bill est arrivé à expiration le 30 septembre 2013.
Objet d’un bras de fer entre le Sénat et la Chambre des Représentants – les chambres butent sur le volet de l’aide alimentaire – l’un des enjeux actuels est de trouver une solution convenable d’ici fin janvier 2014 pour éviter le « dairy cliff », c’est-à-dire une brusque envolée des prix du lait, en vertu des lois permanentes adoptées en 1938 et en 1949.
Devant l’intensité et la multitude des débats qu’il suscite, je Farm Bill apparaît comme bien plus qu’une simple loi agricole. Car l’Agriculture américaine remplit une multitude de fonctions absolument fondamentales : sécurité alimentaire, indépendance géostratégique, développement durable (croissance économique, aménagement du territoire, préservation de l’environnement…).
C’est ainsi que récemment la Maison Blanche a rappelé l’importance stratégique et spécifique du Farm Bill à travers un plaidoyer pour le passage de la nouvelle loi-cadre agricole. Ce rapport, dont nous reproduisons ici des extraits1, revient sur l’importance économique de faire passer une loi agricole qui prévoit notamment la suppression des paiements directs découplés de la production en mettant l'accent sur les systèmes assuranciels, et des programmes innovants comme l'introduction d'un programme de gestion de la production laitière. Une loi qui offre aux farmers la possibilité de lutter efficacement contre l’incertitude des revenus et la volatilité du marché.
Malgré le difficile compromis autour du nouveau projet de loi agricole aux Etats-Unis, la réforme du Fam Bill vérifie l’adage du « faire mieux avec moins ». Car cette réforme est la preuve que même sous contrainte budgétaire, la portée stratégique d’une politique agricole peut être conservée.
La rédaction de momagri
“We need to focus on what the majority of Americans sent us here to do – grow the economy, create good jobs, strengthen the middle class, lay the foundation for broad-based prosperity, and get our fiscal house in order for the long haul. … [That’s why] we should pass a Farm Bill – one that America’s farmers and ranchers can depend on, one that protects vulnerable children and adults in times of need, and one that gives rural communities opportunities to grow and the longer-term certainty they deserve.”
– President Barack Obama, October 19, 2013
Today, the U.S. rural economy faces an important crossroad. Rural America suffered during the Great Recession, but driven by the innovation and smart business decisions of America’s farmers and ranchers, it also shared in the economic recovery. Farm income is currently near a record high level—notwithstanding a record drought in 2012 and many other natural disasters. At the same time, rural America faces unique challenges to further economic growth, including facing lost population in real terms for the first time.
In June of 2010, the Obama Administration began providing input to Congress regarding the prospective features and policy of contents for a reauthorized Farm Bill. Traditionally reauthorized every five years, Farm Bills govern an array of programs including farm commodity price and income supports, farm credit, trade, private lands conservation, research, economic development, renewable energy, food aid, and domestic nutrition assistance. These programs provide a cornerstone for supporting U.S. agricultural prosperity, conserving the nation’s natural resource base, as well as supporting the research and investments for the future of the nation’s food system, the production of alternative energy, and our food assistance safety net.
Over a period of more than three years, the Executive Branch has supported reauthorization efforts aimed to help build a better safety net for farmers and families, and to build a better farm, food, and energy policy for the nation. However, 43 months later and despite the best efforts of many in Congress, work on the Farm Bill remains incomplete. While some programs have been simply extended, others remain either unfunded, unauthorized, or without enactment of needed reforms.
The President’s Budget provides a strong safety net for farmers, that protects them from losses, while reducing budgetary outlays by more than$37 billion. This is accomplished by eliminating unnecessary direct payments, reducing crop insurance subsidies to companies and for farmer premiums, by streamlining conservation programs, while providing assistance for dairy and livestock producers as well as providing assistance for specialty crops, bioenergy, and beginning farmers. The Administration would like to work with the Congress to achieve crop insurance and commodity program savings consistent with the President’s Budget, while at the same time strengthening the farm safety net in times of need and supporting the next generation of farmers.
The Administration has made clear that the Farm Bill is important for every American.
For our farmers and ranchers, a comprehensive Farm Bill would provide a reliable safety net, including a strong crop insurance program, a long term extension of disaster programs and retroactive assistance for livestock producers. The Farm Bill is also a job creation bill that will expand new opportunities for American agriculture, increase manufacturing potential and support Main Street businesses across rural America. It’s a research bill that continues our long history of agricultural innovation. It’s a conservation bill that would continue Federal efforts alongside a record number of farmers and ranchers to conserve our soil and protect our water. The Farm Bill is a trade promotion bill that would honor our trade commitments and assist our farmers and ranchers to export a record amount of product around the world. The Farm Bill is a nutrition bill that would adequately protect those among us who need help putting good food on the table – an effort that is critical for millions of people, including hardworking families, senior citizens, people with disabilities who are unable to work and returning veterans. And it is a deficit reduction bill that would enact reforms saving billions of dollars in the coming decade.
Specifically, a comprehensive reauthorized Farm Bill would:
- Build on recent momentum of the U.S. agriculture economy and rising farm income: In recent years, the agriculture sector has seen strong growth, with farm income and agriculture exports both reaching historic highs. The U.S. agriculture sector is a key engine of economic growth: not only does it put food on the table of American families at affordable prices and provide raw material for a range of vital purposes—it also employs approximately three million workers, and is a key economic driver in many rural communities. The Farm Bill offers an opportunity to build on this progress, providing long-term certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy for America’s farmers, ranchers and producers.
- Contribute to a strong rural economy through investments in rural communities and local and regional food systems. The importance of the Farm Bill goes well beyond the role of agriculture. The Farm Bill authorizes and directs the work of USDA-Rural Development, which provides technical assistance and financing for long-term investments in the future of rural communities.
- Support vulnerable families by protecting our vital food and nutritional assistance programs: Congress should approach the reauthorization of the Farm Bill in a comprehensive manner. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of our country’s strongest defenses against hunger and poverty, and a crucial support for families during tough economic times. The program assists a broad array of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including working families with children, senior citizens, veterans, and adults who are still looking for work. In addition to helping families put food on the table, SNAP also benefits farm and rural economies. The Farm Bill should protect our vital food assistance programs, which benefit millions of families and individuals – in rural, suburban and urban areas alike – and reauthorize them on the same schedule as the agriculture programs. In addition, reforming our largest international food aid program would provide a much greater impact, helping up to 4 million more people each year in emergency food crises abroad, without additional budgetary resources.
- Encourage wise risk management through a secure and reliable safety net for producers: The Farm Bill offers an opportunity to provide an adequate safety net for those producers who most need it, while making meaningful reforms and generating budgetary savings. By eliminating Direct Payments – which have historically been made whether or not a producer suffered a loss – the Farm Bill would save billions of taxpayer dollars while continuing to provide a strong safety net for producers. Volatile input costs and markets with the ever present threat of natural disaster have made agriculture a historically high-risk business, which is why producers need a reliable safety net that both provides assistance quickly during times of need and encourages producers to use prudent risk management strategies. The new Farm Bill offers an opportunity to appropriately reform the safety net to reflect the diversity of American agriculture, allowing farmers to make necessary investments while avoiding needless risks and expenses. This reformed and modernized safety net would include a strong crop insurance program, as well as reauthorized disaster assistance programs for producers. In addition, the Farm Bill presents an opportunity to renew much needed disaster assistance for American’s livestock producers.
- Promote markets at home and abroad while meeting our global trade commitments: Vibrant, fair, and diverse markets at home and abroad benefit our farmers, ranchers, producers, and consumers of all types and sizes. This Administration has consistently focused on expanding markets for American goods abroad, working aggressively to break down trade barriers with our global partners while meeting our trade commitments, as well as by reaching out to producers and enterprises of all sizes to facilitate trade financing and promotion. These efforts have a real impact: after doubling over 5 years, U.S. agricultural exports have remained close to record levels since 2011. With the help of Farm Bill programs, including the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, U.S. producers have achieved the strongest five-year period for agricultural exports in our history. At the same time, a comprehensive Farm Bill will support efforts to expand opportunities here at home for producers. Local food marketing is one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture: in the past decade, direct sales to consumers have doubled. A new Farm Bill should build on this progress to support our specialty crop producers with improved risk management tools and expanded market promotion.
- Promote innovation and productivity by supporting key research: Agricultural research and development generates high payoffs for farmers and the public. A substantial body of literature on investing in agricultural research and development shows that the social benefits from public research in agriculture have been large, with social rates of return usually falling within the range of 20 to 60 percent annually. Research programs today address a broad array of problems facing U.S. agriculture including addressing food supply and security, developing new sources of bio-energy, responding to increased climate variability, addressing plant and animal health issues, water availability and quality, food safety, and nutrition and childhood obesity. A comprehensive Farm Bill will support these goals by investing in key research initiatives.
1 Retrouvez l’intégralité du rapport sur le site de la Maison Blanche en cliquant ici http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/farm_bill_report_11202013.pdf