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Farmers demand mandatory base acre updates

Farmers demand mandatory base acre updates

By Andi Anderson

The United States House Committee on Agriculture recently proposed a new farm bill which includes a voluntary base acre update for commodity programs. This suggestion has not set well with many Midwestern farmers, including Dave Rylander, President of the IL Corn Growers Association.

Rylander argues that a voluntary update could lead to ineffective policy, increase regional disparities, and unnecessarily boost federal farm bill expenditures.

Base acreage, pivotal in determining federal assistance for farmers when market conditions falter, currently relies on outdated data, often stretching back to planting histories from 1981-1983. Critics argue this system results in some farmers receiving payments for crops they no longer cultivate, while others are unable to receive any support due to the ineligibility of their lands.

For example, in 2024, rice base acres are recorded at 4.2 million, though annual plantings never surpassed 3.8 million. Soybeans have a base of 52.6 million acres, significantly lower than the ten-year average of 84.5 million acres, highlighting a 38% discrepancy.

Rylander and other advocates believe updating base acres mandatorily would align support more closely with current agricultural practices, benefiting new farmers and those with previously ineligible lands. Last July, the National Corn Growers Association officially supported a policy advocating for such updates to better reflect recent planting histories.

Economic implications are also significant. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a voluntary update could cost up to $10.8 billion from 2024-2033, whereas a mandatory update might only increase spending by $1.6 billion. Advocates for the mandatory update argue that it would provide more accurate data and prevent inflated program costs.

The ongoing debate underscores the broader challenge of aligning agricultural policy with the realities of modern farming, ensuring that federal programs effectively support the farmers they are intended to help. As discussions continue, stakeholders like Rylander emphasize the need for honesty and effectiveness in agricultural policy to truly serve American farmers' needs.

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Categories: Illinois, Government & Policy

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