Free-Market Opportunity for Arkansas Farmers

This week I introduced a bill before the House of Representatives that would give farmers a free-market option to prepare for disasters without relying entirely on the federal government. My bill, the Farm Risk Abatement and Mitigation Election or FRAME Act, would establish tax-deferred farm savings accounts to give farmers a choice in responding to disasters.

Farmers in our corner of Arkansas and across the country face risks and uncertainty each day. Crop failure, changing markets, insect damage, uncertain weather conditions and even natural disasters threaten farmers and their livelihood. The FRAME Act would give farmers the freedom to invest in a personal, private account dedicated to disaster relief. FRAME Accounts would work much like an IRA or Health Savings Account and would give farmers options for contributing and investing.

Like an IRA and Health Savings Accounts, FRAME Accounts would allow contributions, capital gains and dividends to be tax-deferred. Farmers would be able to draw from the FRAME Account if a disaster should occur. Also like an IRA or Health Savings Account, penalties would be imposed if money is taken from FRAME Accounts without a disaster occurring.

Often times federal disaster assistance does not arrive fast enough. In fact, some farmers in our district are just now receiving aid from requests they made in 2009. During times of disaster, farmers cannot wait for the federal government. Farmers who choose to invest in FRAME Accounts would not be hamstrung by a sluggish federal disaster response. FRAME Accounts would give farmers a safety net to stay in business when they are most vulnerable.

Farmers in our district want to be prepared for disasters. After the flooding Arkansas experienced this past spring and the drought this summer, I talked to farmers and saw the need to develop a private, free-market system that would give farmers the flexibility to manage their own disaster relief funds. The FRAME Act is a common-sense bill to give the farming community the ability to have a self-supporting disaster plan. Over time, the FRAME Act will reduce reliance on government programs and give farmers the assurance they need to stay in business. Agriculture is the number one industry in our First Congressional District. As your voice in Congress, I will fight to make sure that Arkansas’s farmers are given the options they need to prosper.

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