The Bush Administration reached an agreement last week with leaders of the House Ag Committee on the outline of a new farm bill, but their deal has run into opposition from farm groups and key senators. The proposal would require cuts in spending levels for the corn and soybean financial safety net programs.
After reviewing the Alternative Farm Bill Plan released on Feb. 13, Iowa Soybean Association leaders expressed disappointment at the provisions, which they say "extend and worsen the inequities in support for soybeans and biodiesel from the 2002 Farm Bill."
Ron Heck is an ISA board member from Perry and chairman of the Iowa/Illinois Farm Issues Task Force that spent more than 15 months studying various farm bill possibilities. He says: "The 2008 Farm Bill already has a projected budget score for commodities that is more than a 40% drop from the 2002 Farm Bill. The current safety net has cost less than projected in 2002, and it is projected to cost even less in the future. A further drop in payments, some of which wouldn't occur until soybean prices drop 60% from their current level, shreds the safety net."
Proposal would reduce support for beans
Heck also criticized the administration for recommending to cut LDPs in order to get a better budget score, so policymakers can spend the extra money outside of the commodity title. Yet rice and cotton are exempted from cuts. "Soybeans have not received any marketing loan payments during the entire 2002 Farm Bill, and this proposal makes any future payments even less likely," says Heck.
Also last week, American Soybean Association President John Hoffman of Waterloo, Iowa, strongly opposed the proposal. He says: "The plan reverses ASA's work to provide more equitable income support to soybean producers and sufficient funding to make U.S. biodiesel producers competitive with imported biodiesel. The plan also makes changes to the loan deficiency payment program that dramatically weakens the income safety net. It puts soybean, corn and other feed grains at a disadvantage compared to current law."
ISA President Curt Sindergard who farms near Rolfe, Iowa, echoes Hoffman's and Heck's dissatisfaction with the House/Administration proposal, agreeing that its enactment would place Iowa soybean farmers at a far greater disadvantage than an extension of the 2002 Farm Bill. "We'll be weighing in with our conferees," says Sindergard. He urges ISA members to call congressional representatives at 202-224-3121 and the administration at 202-456-1414.