R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: crop insurance, Fuel Acts and more

By Tim Alexander for Chronicle Media

Jim Angel, IL State Meteorologist (photo credit IL Water Survey/U of I)

This week’s roundup of farm and rural news for Illinois farmers and rural dwellers includes, apparently, a final, approved committee farm bill the president indicated he would sign. Illinois Corn helped craft a key addition to the farm bill, as we will detail, and also is at the table for developing new ethanol-powered fuel legislation. In addition, we have highlights of Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel’s contribution to the controversial National Climate Assessment dismissed by the president of the United States. Please read on…

Farm bill passed; ICGA secures crop insurance change

BLOOMINGTON – A final committee farm bill, lacking provisions detailing new work requirements for SNAP recipients, was passed last week and sent to President Donald W. Trump. The president indicated he would sign the bill, according to news reports. The Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) achieved a significant change to the way farms can be enrolled into the federal crop insurance program as defined within the 2018 Farm Bill, according to a December 13 news release issued by the association.

According to the ICGA, farmers will have a low-cost option for insuring small parcels of land in one county by combining them into a single “enterprise unit” with land in a neighboring county. The new endorsement, known as the Multi-County Enterprise Unit, will be offered by the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA), to farmers interested in covering two counties in the same state under their crop insurance policy.

“ICGA is grateful to the RMA for listening to our members’ concerns,” said Ted Mottaz, newly-elected ICGA president. “This change will allow farmers to insure their crops in a more efficient, common-sense way.” Mottaz added that the process of including the endorsement in the farm bill originated with the ICGA farm bill task force years ago.

“This is a great example of how our ICGA grassroots system is meant to work,” he said. “Our members brought to us this concern about the difficulty in insuring their farms across county lines, we streamlined the ask and researched the implications at a staff level, and then facilitated meetings between farmers and government officials to enact this positive change.”

Illinois Farm Fact:

Merry Christmas to all of my loved ones, readers and friends in the Illinois agricultural community! -Tim

Corn farmers at table for Fuels Act talks

BLOOMINGTON – Illinois corn farmers were also the table for a December 11 congressional discussion draft to hear arguments for the 21st Century Transportation Fuels Act, which could promote further usage of high-octane, low carbon fuels such as corn-based ethanol.

“Corn farmer profitability is a concern for our members,” said Elmwood farmer and Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA) president Ted Mottaz. “Congressman (John) Shimkus’ (R-IL) discussion draft looks promising as the beginning of a conversation that could lead to increasing amounts of corn-based ethanol to enter the marketplace. Ethanol is an important, high-powered, environmentally-friendly, low-cost octane source for the country’s hundreds of millions of motorists.”

Attending the hearing on behalf of the ICGA was Mazon farmer Paul Jeschke, who submitted an official letter from the association stating its position on several points relating to ethanol and the long-term trade benefits of market expansion. “Corn farmers are well positioned to fuel our country’s move to high efficiency vehicles with reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” Jeschke said. For more information on this legislation, visit the ICGA website (www.ilcorn.org).

Angel: climate change real, farmers should prepare

URBANA – Jim Angel, Illinois State Climatologist for the Illinois State Water Survey, is retiring at the end of 2018 after 34 years in service at the University of Illinois. He may have saved his most important work for last, however: his contribution to the National Climate Assessment report issued in November, which was instantly and summarily dismissed by noted climatologist and weather predictor Donald W. Trump, currently serving as the president of the United States of America. In a new interview with the U of I news bureau, Angel detailed three key points made within the report:

“One is that we have measured impacts of climate change in the Midwest on agriculture, forests, ecosystems, infrastructure, human health, tribal communities and the Great Lakes. The second point is that we identify a number of ways to reduce the impacts. The third point is that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can reduce the severity of potential future impacts.”

Angel said farmers are already adapting to climate challenges by installing more drainage tile and incorporating more cover crops. He said he believes new ag and forestry practices can help sequester carbon to slow the effects of climate change. “I’m cautiously optimistic we can continue production (near our recent pace). We’re already seeing adaptation taking place,” said Angel, who served as lead author of the Midwest chapter of the report. (U of I news service/IFB news service)

Funding for Cuba trade included in farm bill

CHICAGO – Paul Johnson, chair of the Illinois-Cuba Working Group and the U.S. Ag Coalition for Cuba, said the USACC is celebrating the inclusion of an amendment to the final committee farm bill submitted to the president which permits the use of FMD/MAP funds for Cuba. The amendment represents the first legislation passed regarding Cuba in 17 years and an opportunity to increase the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture, according to Johnson.

“This is a step in the right direction towards normalizing trade with Cuba,” Johnson said, in a USACC news release. “It underscores the common sense of trade policy that allows our farmers and ranchers to level the playing field in global markets and permits the private sector to compete in Cuba.”

The Foreign Market Development (FMD) program provides cost share assistance to non-profit commodity and agricultural trade associations to support overseas market development. The Market Access Program (MAP) helps pay for overseas marketing and promotional programs. President Donald W. Trump had recommended both programs be defunded as part of his FY 2018 budget, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Trump also vowed to quash inroads made into ending the more than six-decade Cuban trade embargo achieved by the Barack Obama administration, against the wishes of much of the agricultural industry.



–R.F.D. NEWS & VIEWS: crop insurance, Fuel Acts and more–