NCGA calls on Congress to pass farm bill before heading home

Kevin Skunes

The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA)is calling on leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to put partisan differences aside and find common ground on a farm bill that can be signed into law before the current bill expires September 30.

Kevin Skunes

In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., on behalf of corn growers, a new farm bill would provide certainty to farmers during increasingly uncertain times for agriculture.

Members of Congress have just a few days to come together and reach agreement on a bipartisan farm bill. There is no good reason this task can’t be completed. Farm income forecasts remain low and farmers have been negatively impacted by trade tariffs and retaliation. A new farm bill would go a long way in providing some certainty during these challenging times.

Press reports indicate the increasing likelihood that members of Congress will return to their districts without passing a new bill. We strongly urge you to finish the bill before this deadline.

USDA recently forecast 2018 net farm income to decline by 13 percent from 2017, to $65.7 billion, half of the 2013 record of $123 billion.

Farmers are also bearing the brunt of trade tariffs and retaliation. An NCGA-commissioned economic analysis found a 44 cent per bushel loss in the price of corn from the beginning of May, right before tariffs were announced, through July, when tariffs were implemented.

This is a $6.3 billion loss to corn farmers alone. In this environment, the support provided by the farm bill’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program is increasingly important. Unfortunately, if the farm bill is not finished by September 30, FMD will lose baseline, cutting off vital market development resources.

It is unfortunate that it appears agriculture is being held hostage to politics. Farm bills have traditionally been bipartisan efforts and for a new bill to be passed this must again be the case. It is time to get past partisan politics and find the common ground needed to pass a bill. There is no good reason for delay.

A new farm bill, signed into law before the current farm bill expires, would go a long way to easing economic tensions across farm country and providing certainty to farmers facing challenging times. NCGA encourages your continued cooperation and stands ready to be of assistance to meet this goal.

Kevin Skunes is president of the National Corn Growers Association