Corn growers are optimistic that Congress can make key farm bill programs more effective and responsive to the needs of farmers by making strategic investments and policy enhancements as it reauthorizes the farm bill, the president of the National Corn Growers Association said today.
NCGA President Tom Haag, a Minnesota farmer, offered testimony before the House Agriculture General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit Subcommittee. The hearing, “Producer Perspectives on the 2023 Farm Bill,” focused on stakeholder priorities for the crop insurance and commodity titles.
“Federal crop insurance has a proven track record of helping producers quickly respond to natural disasters,” Haag said. “Corn growers consistently rank crop insurance as the most important program and title of the farm bill. NCGA broadly supports increasing the affordability of crop insurance.”
In addition to emphasizing corn growers’ support for crop insurance, Haag also offered recommendations for the commodity title. He said NCGA supports increasing the maximum rate in the Agriculture Risk Coverage County program to provide increased assistance to growers who experience significant revenue losses.
Agriculture Risk Coverage County payment rates may not currently exceed ten percent of the county benchmark revenue, which limits assistance to farmers.
“In 2020, growers across Iowa suffered major losses due to the derecho,” Haag said. “The yield losses were widespread and deep enough for ARC County to trigger payments in multiple counties, but the program’s effectiveness was restricted due to the limitation.”
Haag said NCGA recommends increasing the coverage level for ARC County to make the program more responsive to revenue losses.
NCGA supports improvement of the Price Loss Coverage program, Haag said, which provides important price protection for farmers. He noted that NCGA is focused primarily on improvements to the PLC effective reference price escalator. Improving it, Haag said, would allow the program to offer more responsive levels of protection that rise and fall in response to market prices.
Haag also highlighted the importance of expanding international markets by investing in trade promotion programs that boost U.S. agricultural exports and help agriculture and related businesses in rural America. NCGA also supports multiple initiatives to make the existing working land conservation programs more effective.
“We appreciate the budget challenges and varied approaches to current issues impacting the agricultural sector,” Haag said. “Our goal is to make USDA programs more effective and responsive through strategic investments and policy enhancements.”
He said NCGA looks forward to working with Congress to pass a farm bill that works for farmers and stakeholders.