Three commodity groups Friday submitted a letter to leaders of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees expressing concern about any bill containing a risk management program that would tie planted acres to target prices.
The American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and the U.S. Canola Association issued the letter. In the letter, the groups made it clear they would oppose any program that "would distort planting decisions in years when prices fall below support levels."
They said such a situation would result in surplus production of certain commodities, reduced acreage for smaller crops, depressed domestic and international market prices, and potential WTO actions against the U.S.
ASA President Danny Murphy said a "market-distorting" risk management program is not affordable for soybean growers, and actually could create more risk.
"There is no question that this is a job that needs to get done, and there are many programs in each bill with which we agree, but we can't let the need to pass a farm bill be an excuse for policies that place farmers at greater risk," Murphy said.
NCGA President Pam Johnson said coupling a target-price program to planted acres would move farm policy away from reforms that have "made possible a robust economy." She noted that the goals of NCGA have always been to ensure that the federal crop insurance program "remains the cornerstone of the farm safety net" and that there are risk management tools that best complement the federal crop insurance program.
USCA representative Ryan Pederson argued that an effort to increase diversity and maintain canola as an alternative to winter wheat would be at risk if prices fall and support prices are tied to current-year plantings because, he said, "farmers will likely revert to the crop they know rather than the crop they are learning to grow."
"Canola is one of many crops that producers in the Northern Plains can choose from, and we want to preserve that diversity," he said.
Lawmakers are continuing to discuss plans for the farm bill, though no potential dates have been released for a conference committee to discuss aspects of both the House and Senate bills.