IFB weighs in on farm bill implementation

Organization's federal policy director says farmers need more time to make the best decision.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue addresses the media last week at Commodity Classic. (Photo by Rita Frazer)

By Deana Stroisch

Illinois Farm Bureau recently urged Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue not to rush into commodity program implementation.

Adam Nielsen, IFB’s director of national legislation and policy development, told Perdue that Illinois farmers remain excited about the improvements made to Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage in the 2018 farm bill. But they haven’t had much time to examine them – and won’t for the foreseeable future.

Perdue recently told the U.S. House Agriculture Committee that commodity program sign-up won’t begin until Sept. 1. IFB was relieved to hear that, Nielsen said.

“Giving farmers time to get in the field, time to absorb market and yield data, and time to become familiar with commodity program changes will put farmers in the best position to make the right decision,” Nielsen wrote in a three-page letter submitted to the Federal Register.

USDA solicited public comment on the 2018 farm bill implementation process. IFB based its comments on member feedback. IFB will provide additional recommendations to USDA officials during the upcoming Leaders to Washington trip, Nielsen said.

IFB members also urged USDA to:

Enhance Farm Services Agency (FSA) loan programs. IFB applauded the farm bill’s enhanced loan limits and recommended FSA prioritize early implementation of them.

Be flexible with cover crops. IFB members want the ability to insure their spring-planted crops into a standing cover crop without any reduction in coverage. Members also suggest the Risk Management Agency treat cover crop acres no differently than any other no-till.

Currently, the deadline to certify cover crops is in December. “At that time, a farmer may not know if he is using the cover crop as hay, strictly for cover or left for seed,” Nielsen wrote. “We have members who believe they should be given the flexibility to make a final determination by acreage reporting deadline.”

Provide adequate Natural Resources Conservation Service staffing for local offices, among other things. IFB also recommended Conservation Stewardship Program enhancements be eligible for Environmental Quality Incentives Program funding.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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