Hoeven, farmers look ahead to 2023 farm bill

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 7:21 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - These days, it seems like not a whole lot gets done in Washington. But there’s an important piece of legislation that requires bipartisan support to pass, especially with a newly divided Congress: the farm bill.

Every five years, the nation needs a new farm bill. Depending on how it’s written, there could be lasting impacts on farmers’ livelihoods and on the food that’s grown in North Dakota.

Farmers rely on the farm bill for disaster aid and other benefits. A well-written farm bill makes a big difference in farmers’ lives.

”When it’s good, everybody benefits and can stay afloat.”

But it also makes a big difference to everyone else as well.

”The U.S. has the cheapest food in the world — we do, we pay less for our food than any place in the world, and that’s because of good farm programs,” said Mark Watne, president of North Dakota Farmers Union.

That’s why Senator John Hoeven, who serves as a senior member on both Senate ag committees, wants to get the 2023 farm bill right.

”Obviously, I’ll be involved in writing the bill, having a Republican House will help us with leverage, in terms of getting the programs that we think are important for our farmers and ranchers and getting them in a way that really works for our farmers and ranchers,” said Senator Hoeven.

Both he and Watne hope to maintain strong crop insurance, increase competition, and bolster financial protections for farmers in volatile markets.

”The number one risk management tool that our farmers and ranchers have is crop insurance, so we need to get that right,” said Hoeven.

Both Hoeven and Watne also hope to find ways to make the cattle markets more competitive.

”There’s such concentration in the slaughter industry. You have four big processers that actually process or slaughter 85% of the cattle in the nation,” said Hoeven.

”We need a title to get at this, we need a title that really takes that industry on,” said Watne.

Then, there’s the issue of protecting farmers against substantial drops in crop prices and revenues. For that, Watne and Hoeven both proposed improving either the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) or Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) programs.

”PLC and ARC, that portion, we need the reference prices to go up. We’ve got to start at higher levels so that when the prices do collapse, which they tend to always do eventually, we have a backstop,” said Watne.

The current farm bill was enacted in December 2018. The next farm bill will be written when the new Congress convenes.

The 2018 farm bill cost $428 billion. The ultimate purpose of the bill is to create a dependable food supply; it has provisions that incentivize farmers to grow even when it’s risky.