Every five years the legislation that authorizes the programs that are administered by USDA, known as the Farm Bill, is up for consideration, amending, and reauthorization. Farm Bill programs stretch from on farm programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP), funding for market education on biofuels, trade and export programs, and many other programs. The funding in each Farm Bill provides the foundation for ensuring a strong and viable agricultural sector by providing a strong farm safety net. The 2023 Farm Bill is expected to continue many of the programs of the 2018 Farm Bill, however the path to passage will certainly face contention and debate.
The Illinois Soybean Association has identified the following priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill:
Comprehensive Farm Bill
- Maintaining a comprehensive farm bill, which includes funding for both farm-level programs and nutrition programs. Illinous Soybean Growers (ISG) recognize the importance of ensuring the strength of the entire food value chain.
- Ensuring that conservation funding from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) remains within the Farm Bill to support the food value chain and rural America.
- Protecting and preserving crop insurance as a primary risk management tool for growers, including maintaining the affordability of policies, the private sector delivery of products, and the availability of the program to all types of farmers.
- Creating opportunities for global competitiveness and internal marketplace expansion through increasing Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) funding.
- More funding is critical to meet evolving needs of farmers from labor shortages to conservation. In order to remain competitive globally, an expansion in research funding levels is a must.
Current Farm Bill funding runs through the end of September when the federal fiscal year ends. Without extension or reauthorization, farm programs run the risk of becoming unavailable. Politically, the near $20 billion increase in conservation funding that was allocated to USDA programs in the 2022 passed Inflation Reduction Act will have to be added into the 2023 Farm Bill. This funding primarily includes increases of $8.45 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, $4.95 billion for Regional Conservation Partnership Program, $1.4 billion for Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, and $1 billion for other programing including farmer technical assistance in conservation. Some proposals call for moving these funds away from conservation funding and to other areas of the farm bill. U.S. Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has stated opposition to these ideas. Overall, the addition of these funds will increase the “baseline” for farm bill funding, allowing a larger amount of funds for the 2023 bill versus the law passed in 2018.
This Spring both the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees have held hearings looking for input on the various titles of the Farm Bill and how to direct spending. Illinois farmer and current American Soybean Association President, Daryl Cates, testified before a House committee in late April about the importance of getting a bill passed on time in order to protect planting decisions for the 2024 growing season and continue a robust farm safety net. Following these hearings, as summer begins, legislators across the ideological spectrum from both sides of the aisle will be introducing legislation to “mark” a position on topics across the Farm Bill. These positions will be used to generate debate and negotiation on what pieces will be included in a final bill proposed in each chamber of Congress. We expect the House and Senate to develop bills that look substantially different. When these bills pass each chamber, they will then go to a conference committee which will attempt to negotiate the two bills.
As we inch closer to the end of September deadline for passage or extension of a bill, we will be calling on farmers across Illinois to contact our members of Congress and encourage them to pass a Farm Bill on time and one that meets the needs of Illinois farmers. As planting comes to close, the focus on farm policy in Washington is heating up. The Illinois Soybean Association is actively engaging on behalf of Illinois soybean farmers, and with your engagement, will push for passage of the 2023 Farm Bill.
To discover similar articles to Andrew’s in the June Edition of the IL Field & Bean, access the online version at: https://issuu.com/ilsoybean/docs/ill._soy_magazine_june_2023_28pages.