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By TIMOTHY EGGERT | FarmWeek
Illinois Farm Bureau is urging federal lawmakers from Illinois to enact a farm bill this year that features must-pass support for farmers when markets and the weather turn for the worse.
In a letter sent Sept. 12 to Illinois’ congressional delegation, IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. outlined the organization’s priorities among the 12 titles in the five-year legislation, which is set to expire Sept. 30.
Above all measures, Guebert wrote, the bill should maintain commodity and risk management programs that address drops in market prices and help farmers recover quicker from natural disasters.
Other reforms topping the IFB list for Title I are commodity program provisions that would let farmers update their base acres and yields and allow farmers who elect a Harvest Price Option to receive the harvest price if it is higher on prevented plant acres.
For Title II conservation programs, Guebert called for “serious debate” on policy proposals like shorter, five-year Conservation Reserve Program contracts, carbon sequestration incentives for farmers who use cover crops and new credits for improving water quality.
He further pushed for discussion on expanding the Conservation Security Program (CSP) to reward farmers for practices they’ve adopted and giving farmers opportunities to earn more CSP points for maintaining conservation practices over time.
IFB also strongly supports reauthorization of the federal crop insurance program in its current form, a message IFB leaders for months have communicated in meetings with lawmakers.
But were Congress to improve federal crop insurance, IFB recommends a $5-per-acre discount for farmers who plant cover crops, with provisions to reward early adopters, Guebert added.
“This mirrors USDA’s Pandemic Cover Crop Program which was very popular in Illinois and incentivized many farmers to plant cover crops and improve soil health on their farms,” Guebert noted.
Providing USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service with sufficient funding to hire more conservation engineers and granting farmers additional flexibility to harvest cover crops for livestock feed during normal growing conditions is another IFB recommendation.
And regarding the 2023 farm bill’s dairy title, Guebert said IFB supports dairy risk management programs that address negative price differentials and improvements in the Dairy Margin Coverage feed price component.
IFB also supports providing sufficient resources to the National Agricultural Statistics Service for accurately estimating alfalfa prices.
ν This story was distributed through a cooperative project between Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Press Association. For more food and farming news, visit FarmWeekNow.com.