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Illinois Soybean Farmers Concerned about House Committee Farm Bill Provisions

Illinois soybean farmers are pleased the House Ag Committee has passed H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, which is the committee’s version of a new farm bill. However, Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) feels the bill falls short in addressing planting flexibility and market orientation.

“Illinois soybean farmers support the Senate’s Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program. However, the House wanted a “recoupled” target price program (Price Loss Coverage) with much higher support levels. This could renew problems of the 1980s and early 1990s, when farmer planting decisions were influenced by the prospect of receiving government payments when prices fell,” says Bill Wykes, soybean farmer from Yorkville, Ill., and ISA chairman. “We would like to see any price-based program be decoupled. We do not oppose a revenue-based program or updating payment acres, but we don’t want to distract from the fundamental need to maintain planting flexibility and market-orientation in the farm bill.”

Under the House Ag Committee version, farmers would make a one-time choice between the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program and Revenue Loss Coverage (RLC) program. Wykes says reference (target) prices are tied to current plantings, raising the potential for planting distortions during times of low prices and reversing policy under the last two farm bills of keeping target prices decoupled from current plantings. Reference (target) prices under the PLC are the same as last year (soybeans are $8.40 per bushel). Proposed Title I cuts are nearly $23 billion.

The crop insurance title is largely identical to the bill passed last year, but includes new products such as the Supplemental Coverage Option that will provide “gap coverage” to those who have not been able to afford such coverage in the past. Yield improvements address problems with declining Actual Production History yields due to multi-year disasters.

Conservation program authorizations are similar to those in the 2012 bill, and virtually identical to last year’s version on export promotion programs, maintaining funding for the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development. The Biobased Market Program is reauthorized, and the Biodiesel Education Program is authorized at $2 million per year for five years.