PEORIA — U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood is looking to cut some of the red tape farmers have to deal with each year.
The Peoria Republican introduced a measure earlier this week to let farmers file paperwork only once every five years for commodity support programs — either Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage — rather than having to do so annually. The idea grew out of discussions in LaHood's agricultural advisory committee, which meets quarterly and consists of farmers and others in the agriculture industry throughout the 19-county district.
"This is an issue that kept coming up," LaHood said in a phone interview.
The concern is that many of the farmers using those safety net programs often farm multiple parcels, including for other owners. "They have to get five, 10, 15 signatures every year" from individual landlords to be eligible for whichever program they selected, LaHood said.
If farmers add to the parcels they farm or otherwise change their holdings or operations, they would have to register again — but if the status remains quo they'd only have to sign up once, and get signatures once, during the life of a five-year farm bill under the legislation.
"It's really a way to make the two programs work in a more effective, efficient way," LaHood said, citing support from the Illinois Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau. "... It's a small way to work with farmers to reduce their burdens."
Though there hasn't been any formal pushback, LaHood said some U.S. Department of Agriculture employees may not want to change the way they currently operate, but that in this case it could also relieve burdens on them. He said he and other sponsors of the measure, H.R. 4904, would seek to work with USDA leadership to get the measure passed.
Chris Kaergard can be reached at email@example.com or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.