Thank you to everyone that called and emailed your Senators over the past two days. Your willingness to contact Senators Durbin and Kirk and to offer your input on the proposed amendments to the Farm Bill helped us lesson the negative impacts during this first step of negotiations.
Remember, although the Senate has passed a Farm Bill, we must still work with the House of Representatives to pass a Farm Bill, first in committee and then in the full House. Then we must work with the Conference Committee to come up with a final bill. Our goal is to complete this work before the current Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2012. Your calls to your U.S. Representative encouraging a ‘Farm Bill Now’ would still be helpful and timely.
Out of all 73 amendments proposed and discussed in the Senate, the following were most concerning for Illinois corn farmers.
- Amendment 2181 lowered the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit to $250,000. In layman’s terms, if a farmer reported an income of over $250,000 on his taxes, he would be ineligible for farm bill payments. The Illinois Corn Growers Association opposed this amendment and it failed, 15 to 84.
- Amendment 2226 eliminated USDA support for biochemicals and the Illinois Corn Growers Association opposed this amendment. It failed 36 to 63.
- Amendment 2289 reduced funding for Market Access Programs, which help corn farmers create and sustain markets for their grain. The Illinois Corn Growers Association opposed this amendment and it failed, 30 to 69.
- Amendment 2310 allowed states the opportunity to decide whether or not they would prefer to have all genetically modified foods labeled. The Illinois Corn Growers Association opposed this amendment and it failed, 26 to 73.
- Amendment 2314 would repeal the Conservation Security Program and the Conservation Reserve Program. Both these programs help farmers maintain fragile lands for wildlife habitat. The Illinois Corn Growers Association opposed this amendment and it failed, 15 to 84.
- Amendment 2438 links crop insurance subsidies and conservation compliance; a farmer that was not in compliance would not receive crop insurance subsidies. The Illinois Corn Growers Association was opposed, but this amendment passed, 52 to 47.
- Amendment 2439 limited the amount of crop insurance subsidy provided to any farmer with an Adjusted Gross Income of over $750,000. The Illinois Corn Growers Association opposed this amendment, but it passed, 66 to 33.
- Amendment 2437 limited the amount of crop insurance subsidy provided to any farmer with an Adjusted Gross Income of over $750,000, but delayed implementation until the effects of such a change could be studied and determined. The Illinois Corn Growers Association supported this amendment, but it failed, 44 to 55.
Thanks to your calls and the efforts of corn farmers across the country, we were able to secure our positions on almost every issue. The limiting of crop insurance subsidies if a farmer reports an AGI of over $750,000 passed and is included in the Senate bill. ICGA did lend our support to an amendment with this premise that allowed for a study of the implications first, but that amendment, sponsored by Senator Thune, failed and the amendment without the required study passed.
ICGA also opposed the linkage of crop insurance subsidies and conservation compliance, but it passed in the Senate. Both of these will be key issues to address in the House version of the bill and during Conference Committee.
The Senate negotiations went well. This version of the Farm Bill eliminated 100 programs, which is always difficult to do in Congress, and demonstrates the efforts on behalf of U.S. agriculture to minimize our impact on the federal budget. This is a fact you should all be proud of.