You can take advantage of a critical opportunity to protect conservation funding and combat unfair commodity programs in the 2023 Farm Bill by asking your legislators to oppose reference price increases.
In just a few minutes you can place a call and/or send an email to your members of Congress.
If commodity groups and their friends in Congress succeed, the increase in reference prices would benefit less than 0.3 percent of American farmers, cost taxpayers between 10 and 80 billion dollars, and pillage money from pivotal conservation programs.
“At a time when farmers are facing a torrent of climate related disasters, it is more important than ever to provide the resources that enable farmers to remain profitable and resilient… The Inflation Reduction Act was intended to go towards climate smart conservation, and it would ultimately be a disservice to American farmers should those funds go elsewhere.”Letter from every Democratic member of the House Ag Committee demanding Chair G.T Thompson and ranking member David Scott to protect conservation funding in the farm bill
One of the most popular commodity programs in the farm bill is the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program. It makes payments to farmers when the price of an eligible non-perishable commodity crop—such as corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice, peanuts, grains, or oilseeds—drops below a certain threshold called a reference price.
Right now, Big Ag commodity lobbyists are arguing that reference prices must be increased to meet the rising costs of production. However, the USDA reports that commodity crop prices are well above the cost of production and that net farm income is at record highs.
Providing more support for farmers sounds like a good idea, but because the eligibility criteria for PLC excludes all specialty crop, poultry, and livestock producers, increasing reference prices would primarily benefit less than 0.3 percent of American farmers. Most of them are rice, cotton, and peanut farms in the south. Not only would raising reference prices not help most sustainable farmers, but it would not even help most commodity farmers.
Worse, the increase would cost between 10 and 80 billion dollars, That would require pillaging existing farm bill programs, including pivotal conservation programs, like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Threats to Conservation Funding: Helpful Resources
- OEFFA blog post: Farm Bill Update: October 2023
- NSAC blog post: Farm, Taxpayer, and Conservation Groups Agree: Oppose Reference Price Increases
- EWG analysis: Calls to increase reference prices would help fewer than 6,000 farmers
- EWG analysis: Increasing price guarantees primarily benefits Southern states
- Civil Eats op-ed: Farmers Want Climate Resilience, but GOP Lawmakers Want to Redirect Billions in Conservation Funds
- OEFFA: IRA One-Pager
- USDA: IRA Climate and Clean Energy Solutions: Ohio Updates