Mar 28, 2017
In testimony before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Tuesday, American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Illinois soybean farmer Ron Moore spoke on the need for robust programs within the risk management framework of the nation’s farm legislation. Moore contrasted the successful farm economic landscape in which the 2014 Farm Bill was written with the more troubling financial situation many farmers find themselves in today, and called on the committee to make the necessary investments in farm bill programs—including increases where appropriate—so that each can work to its full potential.
“Farm prices are down by 41 percent and farm income is down by 50 percent. Due to continued low prices, estimates for 2017 show a further decline in income of 7.1 percent,” Moore said. “Land rents and input costs remain stubbornly high, and producers are having increasing difficulty obtaining operating loans. In view of these circumstances, ASA [asks] Congress to write the 2018 Farm Bill based on the very real need by U.S. producers for a stronger safety net rather than extending existing programs… Correcting shortcomings in the 2014 Act and funding other important programs whose effectiveness has diminished over time will require additional resources from outside the farm bill.”
Moore’s specific asks of the committee on behalf of ASA included a robust federal crop insurance program, noting that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cost of the program will decline by an average of $1 billion annually. Moore also called on the committee to improve and build upon the current Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs included in Title I rather than develop new ones, maintaining that a choice for producers between a price-based PLC program and a revenue-based ARC program appropriately reflects differences between crops and regions. In his discussion of ARC and PLC, Moore highlighted the need to continue the decoupling of Title I programs from planted acres, citing the potential market distortions caused by tying payments to current-year planting decisions.
Moore also noted that other crops, particularly cotton, may require fixes to their programs, and reaffirmed ASA’s support for such fixes, provided their funding does not come from elsewhere in the farm bill and that such a fix is WTO-compliant.
Capping his testimony, Moore reiterated ASA’s vocal support for including nutrition and anti-hunger programs alongside agricultural programs in the farm bill, as has been the case in each previous version of the legislation, and called on the committee to affirm its support for both producers and consumers of food.
“The only groups pushing for them to be split into two bills are critics from outside the agriculture community whose common goal is to defeat rather than to pass a new farm bill,” Moore said. “… An affirmation that the next farm bill must include programs that support both producers and consumers of food would send a strong message to farm bill critics, as well as to farm and anti-hunger organizations that support this goal.”