Biden talks ag aid on farm in Illinois
President Biden on May 11 toured a farm near Kankakee, Ill., and released a plan to assist farmers in keeping costs down while they increase food production in reaction to the anticipated loss of food from Ukraine due to the Russian invasion.
Accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Biden toured Jeff and Gina O’Connor’s 800-acre farm that grows wheat, corn, and soybeans. The White House said the O’Connors are growing wheat that will be harvested in July, and then will double-crop with soybeans on those same acres. They are also in the process of planting corn on their other acres.
Farmers in the United States, including the O’Connors, are helping on both fronts, Biden said, cutting the cost of food at home and feeding those abroad.
“We have to keep investing in our farmers to reduce costs and ditch prices for consumers,” Biden said. “We have the most productive, most efficient farmers in the world here in the United States.”
Near a White House sign reading “Lowering Costs for American Families,” Biden pointed out that Ukraine is the largest producer of wheat in the world. “Can’t get it out,” he said.
He briefly discussed the effects of the war there on global food security. Of the next Ukraine crop, Biden said, “They’re not able to put it into the ground now.”
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said the administration’s plans are late.
“For months, I’ve been sounding the alarm on the need for the Biden administration to devise a plan that empowers American farmers and ranchers to help address the global food crisis caused by Russia’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine,” Boozman said in a news release. “While the administration is taking a positive step in announcing some measures that will spur double-cropping of select crops this fall and into 2023, there is more the secretary can and should do to address the immediate challenges including administrative flexibilities to CRP [Conservation Reserve Program] and cover crops, which have been successfully implemented in recent years. The reality is: It will take years for the benefits of this proposal to be realized while a food crisis ensues.”
But farm leaders praised the plan.
National Corn Growers Association CEO Jon Doggett, who attended the announcement, said, “American corn growers continue to feed and fuel the world” even as they face challenges stemming from the war in Ukraine and high input costs. “We’re appreciative of the efforts that President Biden and USDA are making to help farmers navigate these challenges, and the recognition of the key role farmers play in providing solutions.”
American Soybean Association President Brad Doyle, a soybean and wheat farmer from Weiner, Ark., said, “The president is improving access to double cropping insurance coverage and technical assistance for precision agriculture and nutrient management, and he is investing more into domestic fertilizer production. We applaud this announcement and look forward to soybean farmers realizing these benefits.”
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner said, “NCFC and its members welcome President Biden’s announcement today giving American farmers access to additional tools to boost domestic agricultural production and help alleviate the global food shortfalls caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since the war began in late February, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and his team at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have proactively worked to address the international turmoil in the food and agricultural markets, and we applaud them for their efforts. The actions announced today can help producers meet demand in the short- and medium-term and will serve as a foundation for additional action to ensure U.S. food security in the longer term. We look forward to continued collaboration with both the administration and Congress as the response to the crisis continues.”
National Farmers Union President Rob Larew said, “America’s family farmers, along with the economy in general, have faced sky-high prices for inputs due to global unrest and a lack of competition in agricultural markets. Lack of competition in the fertilizer market, for example, has resulted in a fragile supply chain prone to interruptions and price gouging. The Biden administration’s promise to double down on USDA efforts to diversify domestic fertilizer markets is promising, and we look forward to providing input on how to do this most effectively.”
Larew added, “We appreciate the administration’s efforts to create more crop insurance options and flexibility for farmers as we face difficult planting conditions and mounting global instability. We will continue to work with the USDA to identify the best policy options to help farmers across the country meet these challenges.”
Biden also mentioned his aid to farmers in his statement on the Consumer Price Index.
“Today, I am traveling to Illinois to speak with farmers about more we can do to lower their costs and help them produce more, lowering the price of food for Americans and around the world,” Biden said.
Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and 80 of his colleagues last week introduced the Protect Farmers from the SEC Act.
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