By Iowa Corn Growers Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association, Indiana Corn Growers Association, Maryland Grain Producers Association, Ohio Corn Growers Association and Virginia Grain Producers Association
While Congress continues to debate the nation's farm bill, the verdict is already in from corn growers who plainly state a farm bill without an optional "revenue-based" safety net is little better than no bill at all.
"The business dynamic of agriculture today is completely different than even a few years ago, so ag policy legislation should lead the way to make this a positive transition. Much of the farm bill as drafted puts window dressing on an outdated approach that serves neither corn growers nor the public well," said Art Bunting, Illinois Corn Growers Association president.
The effort to merge old and new ideas has led to a startling gap in both the House and Senate farm bill proposals, according to state corn leaders. The disaster aid component being offered to fill this gap is insufficient and risky and seems to show little regard for the corn industry, a key economic driver for the nation.
Corn growers are targeting the following key elements in a "revenue-based" product:
- It should be based on market price, not target price
- No double-dipping. Utilizing the revenue-based option should be exclusive of other programs or program approaches such as non-recourse marketing loans
- To get a viable revenue-based safety net, there should be a willingness to negotiate direct payments
- It should be targeted and designed to activate based on need
- The revenue based program should not be based on a national trigger but rather a state or county trigger.
"The goal should be to assure a safety net for farmers and consumers who rely on the growing array of food, feed, fuel and fiber products made from corn. A Farm Bill without a revenue-based program is extremely inadequate and could present significant economic consequences to corn producers throughout the Corn Belt," according to Tim Recker, Iowa Corn Growers Association president.
Corn grower groups conducted extensive focus groups and grower surveying at the beginning of the farm bill debate and found growers clearly believe farm programs should be designed to support the vital agriculture industry when income is low rather than when prices are low. They said the current farm bill focus on low prices rather than revenue should be reformed rather than extended because of the increased exposure for individual growers of all sizes.
"Today's higher prices come with higher input costs-meaning much greater risk and uncertainty for farm families, said Matt Gibson, Indiana Corn Growers Association president. "Under the current farm bill proposal, a producer who experienced yield losses similar to those we faced in 2005 would have no real safety net available to help them farm another year. We need a program that provides assistance when we need it most, not one that is in place because we've always done it that way."
"Current farm policy is making it very difficult to negotiate international trade agreements and grow exports, so a revenue-based bill helps address this concern. We also need to remember this is the nation's farm program, not just farmers. The revenue based concept is more consumer-friendly and will save taxpayers funds over time without sacrificing access to the reasonably priced corn-based products we have all come to expect," Bunting said.