FARM BILL UPDATE AND IL CORN PRIORITIES

Tricia Braid

Apr, 26, 2013  |  Today's News

According to recent news articles, the U.S. Senate intends to work on the Farm Bill in May. That’s a good thing, considering the extension passed late last year expires in just a few short months. Illinois Corn Growers Association has worked hard to include what farmers tell us is the most important. Click the link above to read more

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Thursday that the Senate will take up a five-year farm bill in May.

House Ag Committee Chairwoman Stabenow added that, “… so in May we’ll be marking up our bill again. We’re going to be bringing it to the floor. I expect strong bipartisan support. The House committee will pass a bill out with strong bipartisan support. We need your involvement and we need to make sure that by September 30th, when the current bill runs out on the farm bill, that we have in place a five-year jobs bill for rural America and agriculture that works.”

Here’s how ICGA advocates for Illinois corn farmers on this legislation:

NEGOTIATING A FARM BILL THAT REALLY WORKS FOR CORN FARMERS AND THE FEDERAL BUDGET

OUR GOAL: To pass a farm bill in 2013 that provides an effective revenue-based safety net for U.S. corn farmers.

CROP INSURANCE TITLE:

The commodity title programs should provide farmers with a risk management tool in the event of a multiple year revenue decline. Illinois Corn believes crop insurance is the primary safety net within any given production year.

Illinois Corn will pursue a Farm Bill that incorporates the following:

Do no harm. Illinois Corn wants to see crop insurance become a more valuable tool for farmers, not a less valuable one. We do not want to undermine its effectiveness as a risk management tool and want to continue to see growth in its usage across the state and nation.

Direct the USDA Risk Management Agency to consider Farmer Savings Accounts and multi-year risk management tools in their 508 (h) new product development program.

Continually review effectiveness. The USDA Risk Management Agency should be directed to frequently update and modernize actuarial ratings of each crop insurance product to ensure all are fair and equitable across the U.S.

COMMODITY TITLE:

Corn farmers agree that a revenue-based safety net is the best option to help them manage risk and guarantee food security. We supported the Aggregate Risk and Revenue Management (ARRM) program introduced in the Senate by Senators Brown, Thune, Lugar, and Durbin. This program provides an effective safety net for farmers in the event of repetitive shallow losses.

Farming is a business with narrow margins. While a farmer can potentially cover one bad year when the farm does not make a profit, two or three years of no profit will jeopardize a families’ future. To protect domestic food security, a safety net to cover farmers in the event of repetitive shallow losses is a necessity.

An ideal revenue-based safety net should:

Simplify the program

Eliminate overlapping coverage with individual crop insurance

Provide a new risk management tool in the event of multi-year revenue decline

Make farm policy fair and equitable across all crops and across all regions of the U.S.

Eliminate payments made to producers who have not experienced a loss

Base the program on 100 percent planted acres

Establish crop reporting districts or counties as the trigger for revenue loss.

CONSERVATION TITLE:

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) protects millions of acres of American topsoil from erosion and is designed to safeguard our domestic natural resources. By reducing water runoff and sedimentation, CRP protects groundwater and helps improve the condition of lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams. Acreage enrolled in the CRP is planted to resource-conserving vegetative covers, making the program a major contributor to increased wildlife populations in many parts of the country.

Flexibility within the current program structure is difficult. Illinois Corn would like to see:

Truly sensitive lands and wildlife habitats preserved while still allowing some land to come back into production when the market demands it.

Voluntary enrollment to protect wildlife habitat/food plot areas, filter and buffer strips, established waterways and turn rows, and other partial field enrollments impacting water quality should be encouraged by adjusting rental rates.

Rental rates for whole field enrollments should be significantly lower than partial enrollments in order to give priority to truly sensitive lands.

Land use flexibility is a priority to ensure food availability. Farmers should be allowed to pay off remaining years of contracts to the USDA.

FARM PROGRAMS AND THE FEDERAL BUDGET:

In 2011, the National Corn Growers Association was the first farm organization to come to Washington, DC with policy to support ending direct payments to help reduce the Federal deficit.

Corn farmers across the nation are in agreement that we are willing to take our share of budget cuts if all other segments of the federal budget also share in program cuts. The above represents Farm Bill priorities of corn farmers, who recognize and have adapted to the changing political landscape.

The highest priorities for Illinois Corn in 2012 related to farm policy are a simpler, leaner, revenue based safety net program; a more equitable crop insurance program; and a less complicated, more flexible conservation program.