As U.S. House elects new speaker, corn growers seek to pass a farm bill  - Indiana Corn and Soy

As U.S. House elects new speaker, corn growers seek to pass a farm bill 

Posted: November 24, 2023
Category: ICGA, Indiana Corn and Soybean Post - Winter 2023

By Brooke S. Appleton 
Vice President of Public Policy, National Corn Growers Association 

The House of Representatives has a new speaker, a development with potentially large implications for farmers and advocates who have been eager for Congress to reauthorize the farm bill, particularly after the law expired in late September. 

Thankfully, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has some history of being supportive of the agricultural community. His home district, in fact, has nearly 45,000 acres of corn. 

Indeed, Speaker Johnson has historically aligned himself with several of the causes of corn growers and other farmers. He voted for the 2018 farm bill, and during the House process he voted against amendments that would cut crop insurance, repeal USDA biofuel and energy subsidy programs, and reform the sugar program. He also voted for an amendment to repeal burdensome regulations on the definition of navigable waters. 

And as we celebrate a decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to lower duties placed on phosphate fertilizers imported from Morocco from 19.7 percent to 2.12 percent (more on that story later in this column), it is important to remember that as a rank-and-file member of Congress, Speaker Johnson signed onto a letter to the agency advocating against the tariffs. 

While having a speaker in place makes a comprehensive reauthorization of the farm bill far more promising, I don’t want to paint an overly rosy picture of all that is ahead. The new speaker has his work cut out for him. He has taken over a balkanized caucus that has been, as one member put it, duct-taped together. He will have to carefully navigate the intra-party fault lines while ensuring every member of his caucus feels like they are being heard. The House Republican majority still stands at a razor thin margin and the Senate is still in Democratic control. 

And as if his job weren’t hard enough, he is currently operating under House rules that allow for a sole member of the House to vacate the speakership, a rule that led to the downfall of his predecessor Speaker Emeritus Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). 

In this environment, corn growers and our allies can be cautiously optimistic about the new speaker while continuing to do our due diligence with the various factions within the Republican Party as well as members of the Democratic Party. We need to share the benefits of the farm bill and how those benefits align with a cross-section of values and philosophies. 

Earlier this summer, we launched a digital campaign that featured a series of videos in which growers talk about their farm bill priorities and how they are important to rural communities and the national economy. The videos, which addressed many of the priorities of key policymakers, were digitally targeted to a Capitol Hill audience.  

Of course, this work builds upon one-on-one meetings between policymakers and corn grower leaders and advocates. We continue to work with our friends in Congress while simultaneously building relationships with new policymakers. That’s because, when policymakers truly understand the contributions of growers and put faces to the requests, it is easy for them to get behind the farm bill. 

As the calendar year winds down, we all need to continue to make our voices heard. To keep track of our priorities and advocacy efforts, you can sign up for our action alerts by texting COB to 52886. 

Here’s to being flexible in the face of change. Here’s to passing a comprehensive, bipartisan farm bill as soon as possible. 

Duties on phosphate fertilizers lowered 

On Nov. 2, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it was lowering duties placed on phosphate fertilizers imported from Morocco by more than 17 percent. The decision followed the agency’s administrative review of the duties, which is performed annually by retroactively examining the price of shipments and other factors. NCGA has been a loud opponent of the duties and applauded the decision. 

“This victory was made possible by corn growers across the country who spoke out against these duties as they faced skyrocketing fertilizer prices and product shortages at the behest of The Mosaic Company,” said NCGA President Harold Wolle. “While the best duty on fertilizers is no duty at all, we are nonetheless thrilled that corn growers bearing the brunt of these tariffs will feel financial relief thanks to this decision.” 

The issue stems from a decision by Commerce in 2020 that favored a petition by U.S.-based Mosaic to impose duties on phosphate fertilizers imported from Morocco and Russia. Mosaic had claimed that unfairly subsidized foreign companies were flooding the U.S. market with fertilizers and selling the products at extremely low prices. 

Soon after the decision, NCGA launched an aggressive campaign that called on Commerce to reverse the decision and for Mosaic to withdraw its request for tariffs. During the past three years, NCGA has led the charge to raise concerns by filing an amicus brief, sending a letter to the White House, and informing Members of Congress about the impact. 

In October, NCGA – along with 62 other agricultural groups, including state corn grower organizations – sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo calling on her to consider the current difficulties faced by farmers as she recalculates duties on phosphate fertilizer imported from Morocco. That letter and previous actions by corn growers culminated in the change. 

In a separate issue, in September, Commerce was ordered by the U.S. Court of International Trade to reconsider the duty rate calculation because of flaws found in Commerce’s analysis. A decision on that matter is expected on Dec. 13. 

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