Traditionally heralded as bipartisan legislation, the next farm bill will likely face some partisan politics that former farm bills didn’t experience to the same degree. That said, work on the next farm bill is underway ahead of the Sept 30th expiration of the current legislation. IL Corn was pleased to see two amendments we’ve been supporting on behalf of our members included in the committee’s final markup. One was introduced by Congressman Rodney Davis, and the other by Congressman Mike Bost.
Davis’ amendment would remove a provision in the bill barring participants in the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) program from also buying a crop insurance product. This amendment clears that hurdle, allowing ARC participants to purchase coverage in the Margin Protection plan. The amendment addressed provisions in the bill that had been supported by fiscal hawks like the Heritage Foundation that claims farmers are benefiting multiple times on the same bushels of production. IL Corn stands firm in our position that crop insurance be recognized as farmers having skin-in-the-game, so to speak. In short, farmers must experience a loss and have purchased the insurance before receiving the benefit. The Davis amendment is now in the full bill, headed to the House for a full vote.
The amendment introduced by Congressman Bost would allow nutrient recovery systems to qualify as "new and innovative conservation approaches" for Conservation Innovation Grants. IL Corn knows that many farmers are choosing to implement best management practices that result in reduced nutrient loss, voluntary measures suggested by the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. The opportunity to have grant monies supporting those decisions, which clearly have on-farm and off-farm benefits, will encourage greater adoption of these practices.
Given the partisan outcome in today’s markup and opposition from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), timing of a vote by the full House will largely depend on the Republican Leadership’s ability to secure enough votes from its more conservative members who are calling for significant cost-saving reforms to farm and nutrition programs (as is referenced above, see the Heritage Foundation’s proposed farm program cuts here). As a result, there is considerable uncertainty on final passage with no firm commitment of a date from the Speaker’s office on a floor vote.
IL Corn urges you to continue to encourage your respective Representatives to press for a new farm bill by the time the 2014 Farm Bill expires. We also encourage you to express appreciation to Congressman Rodney Davis for his leadership in offering an amendment to the Crop Insurance Title and to Congressman Bost for his work on the conservation program. IL Corn will continue to advocate for a bipartisan bill that includes greater resources for our trade promotion programs, conservation opportunities on working lands, meaningful changes to ensure the ARC-County program remains a viable risk management option, and protecting federal crop insurance.