Farmer-led advocates cautiously optimistic moving forward

As summer heats up much of the Lone Star State, Washington has also been ablaze with farm bill conversations in recent weeks. For more than a year, Texas Corn Producers Association (TCPA) has worked with legislators and staff to ensure the corn farmers’ voice is heard as talks progressed on this important piece of legislation to family farmers.

When the House Committee on Agriculture held its farm bill markup last month, board member and Moore County farmer Dee Vaughan and TCPA staff were on the Hill to advocate for the state’s corn interests in this vital piece of farm policy.

“This is just the first step in a long process,” Vaughan, who has nearly three decades of farm bill advocacy experience, said. “There’s a lot of distance between the committee-passed House version of the bill and the proposals we’ve seen thus far from the Senate.”

TCPA has advocated several aspects of this farm bill, with some key priorities at the forefront:

  • Increase Price Loss Coverage (PLC) reference prices
    To be relevant to today’s record-high $5.25 per bushel cost of corn production, the statutory reference price for corn should be increased 15-25%.
  • Allow a voluntary base acre update
    Enable farmers growing a program crop that incurs market and production risks to be eligible for the farm bill’s Title 1 risk protection by offering a voluntary base acre update.
  • Increase the corn loan rate
    The marketing assistance loans (MAL) in the farm bill help farmers maintain cash flow during harvest, and it is necessary to increase this loan rate for corn.

“We’re pleased with what we see in the House bill as a whole,” Vaughan said. “It incorporates the lion’s share of what TCPA asked for, particularly for reference prices, base acre updates, loan rates and increased payment limits.”

Notably, Congressman Ronny Jackson (TX-13) worked to see the House committee’s bill incorporate a 10-county pilot program to address a final planting date issue for corn in the Texas Panhandle.

“TCPA appreciates Congressman Jackson’s work on behalf of corn farmers in his district,” David Gibson, TCPA executive vice president, said. “The Congressman and his staff listened to the needs of farmers in the district to solve a unique crop insurance matter in the region.”

TCPA also appreciated both Congresswoman Monica De La Cruz (TX-15) and Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett (TX-30) speaking for the renewal of the feral hog eradication program.

“TCPA is grateful both Congresswoman De La Cruz and Congresswoman Crockett acknowledged the tremendous economic losses and toll feral hogs have on the state’s farmers – and ultimately that impact on America’s consumers,” Gibson said.

While the agriculture community is cautiously optimistic following the excitement of this committee-passed legislation, it’s now awaiting the final proposals and conversations from both parties of the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

“There’s a lot of ground to cover and there’s not a lot of legislative days with it being an election year as well,” Vaughan noted. “We’ve seen it in the past where we thought it was a longshot, but they’ve gotten it done. So there’s still reason to be hopeful.”

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