A Farm Foundation online forum showed just how wide the gap is between Democratic and GOP farm bill priorities and how tough it will be amid all the other hurdles to do a farm bill this year.
John Newton is Chief Economist for Senate Ag Republicans and he said; “Since the last farm bill, farm production expenses have increased by 114 billion dollars, and it’s every single category that farmers are paying. They’re paying more for fertilizer, they’re paying more for livestock feed, paying more for diesel fuel, paying more for labor, paying more for pesticides, and interest rates are going up at a rapid rate, right now. (But) When you spend $1,500, $1,300 to raise a crop, and you know that the commodity prices have to fall by 30, 40, – in the case of chickpeas or oats or corn, over 40 percent – before it triggers a Title I program payment, you realize that’s not much of a safety net.”
But Chief Economist for Senate Ag Democrats, Steven Wallander says nutrition and other farm revenue streams are his side’s priority. He says, “And so, when you have that additional spending in SNAP benefits and other nutrition programs, right, those are creating tens of thousands of rural jobs. An extra billion dollars of spending on SNAP creates over 500 jobs on the farm.”
But Newton says that won’t matter if farmers go broke. “In 2023, USDA’s projection for net farm income and net cash income is going to be the largest decline that we’ve ever seen in history. In the case of net cash income, even when you adjust for inflation, we’re looking at the largest decline that we’ve ever seen,” according to Newton.
With a projected 30-percent-plus decline in corn, nearly 30 percent in wheat, over 20 percent in soybeans, and a whopping 80 percent decline in dairy net cash income. Newton says the farm safety net must be addressed now, or producers will have to live with current supports another five years.