Monday, September 08, 2014

Implementing Laws--The Case of APH

Previously I noted that RMA is not able to implement a provision of the farm bill, allowing bad years to be excluded from the calculation of APH.  The UofIL has a post discussing the pros and cons and tradeoffs of the provision.  As is often the case, something which sounds simple isn't really when the poor bureaucrat has to translate the legislative language into regulations and computer algorithms.  Notably, if the producer excludes a yield, she has to pay a higher premium reflecting the increase risk. Pardon my cynicism, but I suspect that provision wasn't highlighted when Congress was considering the provision.

The good professors come up with 12 questions which should be answered.  (A sidenote: there is a recent book which argues that the "administrative state" is unconstitutional.  Haven't read it, but if I follow the argument, Congress should have written answers to those questions into the farm bill.  IMHO that's totally impractical--Congress barely has the capacity to write the basic provision and definitely doesn't have the capacity to answer most of these questions.)

They conclude with this:
The 2014 Farm Bill appears to make a substantial change to the crop insurance program through an amendment that permits farmers to elect to exclude yields from their APH if they are in a county (or contiguous to a county) where the county's average yield is below 50 percent of the average county yields for the previous 10 consecutive crop years. The provision raises many questions about how it will operate and what impact it will have on producers who elect to drop a yield. It also raises questions about the impact this change could have on producers in the county where such an election can occur and for the actuarial soundness of the crop insurance system as a whole. These are not insignificant questions considering how many producers rely on crop insurance as the cornerstone of the farm safety net. At the very least, FCIC must adjust the premiums paid by producers making this election to reflect the increased risks associated with the change, but many other questions remain.

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