(Posted Fri. Jan 2nd, 2015)
Members of the National Corn Growers Association’s Public Policy Action Team met in St. Louis recently to hear more about implementation of the 2014 farm bill as well as updates on other federal programs and trends affecting corn farmers. PPAT’s mission is to offer direction to NCGA in developing public policy issues. The action team is comprised of 16 growers and staff from across the country.
Highlights of the meeting included several presentations and discussions related to the farm bill’s two risk management programs, Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Farmers have until March 31, 2015 to make a one-time choice between the two programs for the 2014-2018 crop years.
“NCGA pushed for a market-based approach to risk management, and we’re very pleased it was included in the final farm bill in the form of the ARC program,” said PPAT chair Jim Reed of Illinois. “While we think ARC is a better fit for the majority of our members, it’s ultimately their choice. This is a big decision that will affect them for years to come. Now it’s important that we get the word out to our growers. Our job is to make sure they are aware of their options and can make an informed choice.”
Action team members heard from Dr. Gary Schnitkey and Jonthan Coppess from the University of Illinois about ARC and PLC, who discussed key milestones in the program rollout and walked through a new online simulator designed to help growers test out various market scenarios and make an informed choice.
Also presenting was Tim Cansler, who is working alongside NCGA staff on grower communications and outreach efforts regarding ARC and PLC. Included in those efforts is a new website, www.arcforfarmers.com, designed to inform growers about the risk management options and answer common questions. Members can expect to hear more from NCGA in January and at Commodity Classic.
Additionally, PPAT members received updates on a variety of other topics, including the crop insurance program, tax reform, big data, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) in farming operations, and biotechnology.
In addition to Reed, team members include Vice Chair Steve Ebke of Nebraska, Corn Board Liaison Lynn Chrisp of Nebraska, Jed Bower of Ohio, Reno Brueggeman of South Dakota, Ryan Buck of Minnesota, Mike Buis of Indiana, Ken Hartman of Illinois, Phil Hickman of Virginia, Kyle Kirby of Missouri, Randy Melvin of North Dakota, Joe Reed of Texas, Dean Taylor of Iowa, and Amanda De Jong of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. NCGA staff in attendance included Senior Director of Public Policy Sam Willett and Legislative Assistant Sara Neagu.