Farm bill negotiations end with deal

By on February 2, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, ILL.—Illinois soybean farmers are pleased House and Senate conferees reached an agreement this week on the final version of the farm bill, and look forward to quick approval of the bill in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

“The bill provides for multiple soybean farmer priorities, including a flexible farm safety net that includes a choice between price-based and revenue-based risk management tools and maintains decoupling of payments under both programs from current planted acreage,” said Mike Marron, soybean farmer from Fithian, Ill., and Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) vice chairman. “While this has been a trying process, we believe conferees, including Rep. Rodney Davis, have produced a framework that will serve the best interests of Illinois soybean farmers.”

The bill includes a choice between an ISA-supported revenue program that covers both price and yield losses with county and farm level options, and a price support program which allows the optional purchase of insurance coverage under a Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). The bill also eliminates direct payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new trade challenges. Farmers may choose between maintaining existing crop acreage base or reallocating current base acreage to reflect average acres planted to covered commodities from 2009 to 2012.

For crop insurance, the bill makes enterprise units permanent, allows the purchase of enterprise unit coverage, authorizes SCO, and will help strengthen the next generation of agriculture by providing a 10 percent increase in premium support to beginning farmers and ranchers.

The bill also secures agricultural research programs like the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and the new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR); the export promotion work done through the Foreign Market Development (FMD) and Market Access Program (MAP); and key energy programs, including the Biodiesel Education Program and a strengthened Biobased Markets Program. The bill consolidates 23 previous conservation programs into 13, while focusing conservation efforts on working lands.

“We know Illinois legislators have been working hard on behalf of the state’s farmers,” Marron said. “We look forward to a bill that provides effective, multi-year farm legislation and establishes practical risk management programs that will protect us in difficult times.”

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) represents more than 45,000 soybean farmers in Illinois through the state soybean checkoff and membership efforts. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, promotion, issues management and analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace.

For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org.