January 20, 2020

Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; and Biotech

Farm Bill Issues

The Washington Insider section of DTN reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Budget concerns and the looming crisis over the debt limit dominate conversations in Washington now as the White House budget meetings become increasingly prominent in each news cycle. An important development so far this week was the announcement of additional detail about the administration’s position.”

“In an indirectly related policy development this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the press that the administration favors basing farm programs on producer need, and intends to push that approach for future program cuts. ‘I think, frankly, many farmers understand and appreciate that there has to be change,’ Vilsack said.

“Discussions on the debt ceiling and spending issues that are underway right now have included ag spending, Vilsack observed. ‘It’s no secret that they’re talking about that, absolutely. And what they’re talking about I think is a change in the direct-payments system,’ he said. And, he indicated that many of the discussions about cutting back farm programs are merely ‘catching up to where the president was in 2009.’

“‘The president suggested that there be limitations on who receives this, that the help should go to folks who need it the most,’ Vilsack explained. ‘It doesn’t necessarily need to go to people who have off-farm income of a half a million dollars, they’re going to be able to probably weather the storm. Or folks who have fairly large operations who’ve diversified and have farm income that is substantially higher than what most Americans experience. They may not need the help, so you target it.’”