Re-authorization of farm bill the primary mission for 2023 - Indiana Corn and Soy

Re-authorization of farm bill the primary mission for 2023

Posted: May 3, 2023
Category: ICGA, Indiana Corn and Soybean Post - Spring 2023, ISA, News

Senior Director for Industry Affairs

As many farmers are aware, the 2018 Farm Bill expires later this year – necessitating a re-authorization before Sept. 30.

There is a strong commitment from both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to have a bill completed this year. With a robust hearing schedule – both on Capitol Hill and at field hearings across the country – the commitment to deliver a farm bill on time seems to be sincere.

More important than an on-time farm bill is the need for policy that works for corn and soybean farmers. The farm bill’s purpose is to stabilize our nation’s food supply, and an important element of that stability is safety-net programs for farmers.

We have had many opportunities to highlight our priorities with our congressional delegation during the past year – Shop Talk meetings on Indiana farms last summer, DC Flyins which included staff and farmerleaders, Coffee Shop Talks in the district while lawmakers are back in Indiana, as well as the constant communication on priorities through email and phone calls.

This year, the Indiana Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Membership & Policy Committee (M&P) joined forces with Indiana Farm Bureau to host Farm Bill Listening Sessions with Indiana’s congressional delegation during the April recess.

These Listening Sessions featured Sen. Mike Braun and U.S. Representatives Jim Baird, Frank Mrvan, Greg Pence, Erin Houchin and Rudy Yakym. Each meeting proved to be engaging and insightful for both the Members of Congress and the farmers in attendance.

Key programs within the farm bill that help stabilize the industry are crop insurance and Title I programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Given the increased cost of planting and raising an acre of corn and an acre of soybeans, crop insurance is a must.

Few farms can obtain financing without some level of crop insurance coverage and, even if a farm is established well enough financially to not need an operating loan, farmers cannot afford to have the seed, fertilizer and other inputs left uncovered. The stakes are too high to not have our crops insured.

ARC and PLC reference prices were established under the 2018 Farm Bill. These levels, $8.40 per bushel for soybeans and $3.70 per bushel for corn, were based on market projections in 2018 and simply are not at a high enough level to reflect the reality of higher prices and higher input costs. If these reference prices are not adjusted upward to reflect our new market realities, this safety net will not work.

Given the new realities of market prices and input costs, this “safety net” is lying on the concrete. Yes, it will catch us, but it’s really going to hurt and not provide much protection for corn and soybean farmers.

The Market Access Program (MAP) and the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) are successful programs within the farm bill. MAP and FMD have provided the needed assistance from USDA to partner with commodity checkoff programs to open new foreign markets for our products. This funding has been flat, however, for nearly 20 years. Additional investment in MAP and FMD is needed to continue this vital market development work.

Conservation programs, if funded through the farm bill or not, need to remain voluntary and incentive based. Not all conservation programs work on every farm, so participation decisions need to remain solely with the farmer.

There is a concern this approach may change to have more strings attached to other programs to require conservation programs and we are committed to preventing that approach.






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