The 1996 “Freedom to Farm” bill changed the face of farm programs when it “decoupled” farm payments from what farmers actually plant. This was a huge benefit in the eyes of Illinois corn farmers, allowing and encouraging farmers to plant as the market dictated, instead of planting for government programs.
The House-Senate Conferees are struggling to come to an agreement to maintain this forward growth. Instead, they are debating moving backwards to another “target price” farm bill that would again undermine farmers’ ability to respond to market signals and meet world demand.
A target price program could also trigger WTO cases against individual commodities.
Recent reports indicate that the principal negotiators are pressing to move a new farm bill conference report to their respective chambers prior to Thanksgiving Day break. However compromise that backtracks to a target price program would be worse than no compromise at all.
POLITICO published the following: “But the philosophical differences are real. The Senate focuses first on farm revenues — not costs. It concedes that the recent run of high commodity prices will end sometime, but the economic argument is that production costs — such as land and fertilizer — will also fall with time.
The House would argue that it is better to err on the side of the farmer’s survival.”
The question is, will the two chambers achieve compromise? And will it be a compromise that is in the best interest of Illinois corn farmers? Will it be the most federal budget friendly policy that causes minimal impact to our growing deficit?
Our policy supports a safety net that does not impact planting decisions. If you believe you have the right to continue to choose what you plant on your acres, you might call Senator Mark Kirk at 202-224-2854 and tell him to talk about this important issue with Senator Cochran.