Reference price discussions complicating farm bill

The director of the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program at the University of Illinois says discussions of reference price updates in the new farm bill have been…

“It’s been sold, I think, that it’s too simple and it’s not, it’s anything but,” he says.

Jonathan Coppess says the biggest complications are the budget projections and necessary funding requirements.

“The Congressional Budget Office has to project the cost of these things, but that has no basis in reality.”  He says, “I mean, they’re trying to project 10 years into a future of crop prices. We have no idea what they’re going to be…It gets really expensive to do that.”

He tells Brownfield any update to reference prices likely comes with a ‘real world’ expense.

“Factor all that together and take conservation dollars to offset it, or tie the hands of the Department of Agriculture to respond to an emergency,” he says, “and all of a sudden what looks really strange trying to understand budget rules gets even stranger in the reality of what happens with farmers, what happens on the ground.”

Coppess says those types of impacts are hard to sell to constituents.

“They can’t get hardly anything through,” he says, “so when you do this kind of thing with the budget, it makes it really hard to bring the votes together that you need to pass a piece of legislation.”

He says any movement on a new farm bill needs to happen sooner rather than later to meet September’s deadline. 

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