Ag Groups on Farm Bill: Farmers need a strong safety net

Who better to hear from when crafting farm policy than producers themselves!

Representatives from major ag groups spoke on Capitol Hill and gave their thoughts on improvements for this year’s legislation.

Georgia’s Austin Scott started the hearing saying changes are crucial.

“Since 2018, Farm Bill was enacted in the law. The agriculture sector has experienced numerous shifts in federal policy outside of our standard farm bill programs. That is why making improvements to the 2023 farm bill is so critical. Farmers need assurance that over the next five years, a safety net will be in place that can stand the test of changing markets and extreme weather events,” said Rep. Scott.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Tom Haag said the most important part of the bill is crop insurance.

“Corn growers consistently rank crop insurance. That’s the most important program and title of the Farm bill. We strongly oppose any efforts to restrict producers access to crop insurance products and oppose harmful programs cuts that would negatively impact crop insurance products, their delivery or the sound structure of the program. NCGA supports funding the market access program. And the foreign market development program? NC GA also supports 3 initiatives to make the existing working land conservation programs more effective,” said Haag.

Brent Cheyne with the National Association of Wheat Growers said farmers need a strong safety net.

“Farming is a risky business, requiring a strong safety net. Wheat farmers rely on the certainty of the crop insurance program. In turn, the American people can depend on American farmers who are able to continue to withstand natural disasters and produce. The most stable and affordable food supply in the world, crop insurance is vital to protect farmers and support businesses in rural America. Many banks are now requiring crop insurance in place before giving a loan. This ensures that farmers and small businesses that supply them are all protected. Prices have now risen to the point where it would take a 62% decrease, or nearly 2/3 of our price,” said Cheyne.

American Soybean Association President Daryl Cates was last to make remarks. He echoed Cheyne.

“Before being caught by the safety net of PLC, when prices fall that far, there’s effectively no safety net at all for farmers, while crop insurance provides risk management when the crop is in the ground, Title 1 provides necessary protection beyond that period. Soybean growers experience first hand. The channels of an ineffective safety net during the trade war with China in 2018 and 2019. So I stopped flowing to the Chinese markets in our peak export period that fall, soybeans prices dropped significantly. But we received no PLC benefits and little from arc programs. If a trade war that shrunk soybean demand by over 30% hardly triggered the farm safety net provided in the current farm bill, it is difficult to envision a scenario that would provide meaningful assistance without significant improvements. To the current reference price and program elements of Arc and PLC,” Cheyne said.