Farm Groups Won’t Trade Higher Reference Prices for Cheaper Crop Insurance

Dozens of farm groups oppose giving up higher reference prices or crop subsidy triggers in exchange for a GOP-proposed boost in crop insurance supports in a new farm bill. It’s just not palatable, the groups argue, given the high cost of farming and falling commodity prices and incomes.

National Corn Growers First Vice-President Kenneth Hartman of Waterloo, Illinois said, “We’ve had input costs go up, corn prices went down. I mean, we’ve got a lot of corn in rural America.”

Stressing the need for more affordable crop insurance, but not at the expense of ARC and PLC reference prices. North Dakota Farmers Union President Mark Watne said, “No, we’re not willing to change, which you probably would have expected us to say. And let’s think about it, there’s no inflationary (thing) built into reference prices. And we’re at higher costs, no different than anybody else trying to buy stuff. The costs are up, and we’re below the cost of production on reference prices.”

A need driven home by top Senate Ag Republican John Boozman of Arkansas who says, “ARC and PLC and crop insurance are different. Crop insurance works well when prices are up and your yields are low. PLC is much better with a lower price. The 2018 farm bill is built on 2012 data. It’s a totally different world.”

But Ag Chair Democrat Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says she won’t give up SNAP dollars to help fund higher reference prices and would rather shift ARC and PLC dollars to crop insurance with its quicker payouts for over 130 crops.

Story courtesy of the NAFB News Service and Matt Kaye/Berns Bureau Washington