Farm Bill News

It had been more than 25 years since a sitting U.S. President addressed the American Farm Bureau Federation, but that’s why President Donald Trump is different. Not only did he give a rousing speech at the Farm Bureau’s 99th annual meeting in Nashville, he promised to attend next year’s 100th anniversary and help celebrate the centennial for the grassroots organization that serves as the voice of agriculture.

From tax and trade to immigration and infrastructure improvements, he touched on a myriad of important issues during a 35-minute speech. Yet, it was his comments about farm policy and crop insurance that proved to be one of the afternoon’s biggest applause lines.

“I’m looking forward to working with Congress to pass the Farm Bill on time so that it delivers for all of you,” President Trump told the group of nearly 5,000. “And I support a bill that includes crop insurance.”

Other Issues Affecting Ag
He also said he was working very hard to get a better deal for farmers and manufacturers in the present North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump said, “We know that our nation was founded by farmers. Our independence was won by farmers. Our continent was tamed by farmers. Our armies have been fed by farmers and made of farmers. And throughout our history, farmers have always led the way.”

He warned the Farm Bureau delegates that a change of direction in mid-term elections could lead to a reverse of the new tax cuts and reduction in regulations that he has implemented. When he mentioned reversing the Obama administration’s Waters of the U.S (WOTUS), the crowd gave him a standing ovation as they also did when he talked about doubling the estate tax exemption. Trump praised Ag. Sec. Sonny Perdue and Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), but also spoke about the outstanding students from the premier youth organizations: FFA and 4-H.

During a special ceremony, President Trump signed two executive orders intended to help expand broadband into rural communities.

Cotton Attempts To Addresses Need For ‘Safety Net’
The House Appropriations Committee has inserted in the disaster aid package a program that would make cotton growers eligible for the Price Loss Coverage program. The cotton provisions drafted by the House Appropriations Committee would create a PLC reference price of 36.7 cents a pound for “seed cotton,” defined as “un-ginned upland cotton that includes both lint and seed.”

Because of congressional budget rules, enacting cotton and dairy provisions in an appropriations bill would reduce budget pressures on the House and Senate Agriculture committees when they write the new 2018 Farm Bill.

The seed cotton provisions wouldn’t add any costs to the overall disaster bill because the payments would be offset by changes in the bill, said Conaway.

The bill would require growers to reallocate their “generic” base acres, former cotton base acres on which farmers have been receiving payments for other crops. Cotton growers who sign up for the PLC program would no longer be allowed to purchase the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) revenue insurance policy as authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

Don Shurley, professor emeritus of cotton economics with the University of Georgia’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics says that a seed cotton PLC payment would be made if the market year average price for seed cotton is less than the reference price. The proposed reference price is 36.7 cents per pound. The market year average price would also be a weighted average of the lint price and seed price. Any payment would be made on 85 percent of seed cotton base acres.

Shurley says, “Regardless of what happens with cotton policy, generic base, as we now know it, will likely cease to exist in the next Farm Bill. Therefore, it is vital that generic base, which is former/previous cotton base, now or in the new Farm Bill be converted into something of value for the cotton grower.”

The Senate Ag Committee must pass the Disaster Provisions if the bill moves forward.
If approved for 2018, it is hoped that the seed cotton program will be continued into the new Farm Bill effective in 2019.