Both the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association called for the completion of a new farm bill by Congress at the opening of the 2008 Commodity Classic held in Nashville. But both groups acknowledge they may not get everything they asked for when the farm bill debate first began.
As of Tuesday the House and Senate were focusing on a 10-year farm bill that would come in around $10 billion above baseline. However, both groups see faults with the proposal being pushed on Capitol Hill.
NCGA has long supported an optional revenue protection plan, but it's unclear if such a program is in the plan currently under review. The $10 billion above baseline is just a funding number; no one knows what that $10 billion will fund.
NCGA President Ron Litterer said NCGA is willing to give up as much as 20% in direct payments to pay for a crop revenue option.
The Congressional Budget Office 're-scored' the budget after the energy bill was passed and forecast higher crop prices. The rescore painted a brighter picture for farm income, implying that less money would be needed for a federal safety net.
NCGA claims that since crop inputs and crop values are higher than ever, revenue risk is too volatile to not have a safety net that includes revenue assurance.
"The Average Crop Revenue proposal in the Senate bill really addresses the increasing risk producers are taking on by being targeted toward expanding the uninsurable portion of that risk," says Litterer. "That fact that it is optional gives producers the choice they need in these volatile times."
Meanwhile American Soybean Association President John Hoffman says ASA is urging farm bill conferees to increase soybean target prices to $6.30 per bushel in the final farm bill. "This level would not provide soybean producers with an income safety net equitable with other program crops, but would be a substantial improvement over the current level of $5.80 per bushel," he says.
Neither the House nor the Senate has increased target prices in earlier approved bills, so the chances of that happening in conference committee are slim.
Both Litterer and Hoffman agreed that a 10-year farm bill may allow more wiggle room for funding, but a 5-year program makes more sense since farm fundamentals are changing so rapidly.