Biden to travel to Illinois today to announce farm aid
President Biden will travel to Kankakee, Ill., today to visit a family farm and discuss the impact of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on food supply and prices at home and abroad, and the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to give farmers the tools and resources they need to boost domestic food production.
The Hagstrom Report has learned that the Biden-Harris administration will:
▪ Increase the number of counties eligible for double cropping insurance.
The administration explained, “Double cropping allows farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year, helping boost production without relying on farmers to substitute crops or cultivate new land. But it is not free from risk and some farmers who practice double cropping cannot obtain crop insurance.”
“The Biden-Harris administration is seeking to expand insurance for double cropping to as many as 681 additional counties, bringing the total number of counties where this practice qualifies for crop insurance to as many as 1,935, so more American farmers have the financial security they need to start or expand double cropping.”
▪ Cut costs for farmers by increasing technical assistance for technology-driven “precision agriculture” and other nutrient management tools.
The administration said, “Precision agriculture is a farm management system that allows farmers to use technology to target application of inputs to soil and plant needs, resulting in less fertilizer usage without reducing yields, saving farmers money over time and extending the usefulness of critical products in short supply worldwide.”
Using USDA planning and cost sharing assistance programs available to help American farmers with nutrient management, the administration is planning “to boost outreach to farmers, streamline the application process, and prioritize application approvals to expand access to these critical programs,” the administration added.
▪ Double funding for domestic fertilizer production.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack earlier announced that USDA would invest $250 million in domestic fertilizer production, but Biden will announce that he is doubling the initial $250 million investment in domestic fertilizer production to $500 million to lower costs and boost availability for farmers, “”so they can obtain the inputs they need at prices they can afford to maximize yields,” the White House said.
Fertilizer prices have more than doubled since last year, due in part to supply chain disruptions created and exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including rising energy costs, the White House noted.
The announcement will come one day after the House passed a $40 billion Ukraine supplemental appropriations bill that did not include the $500 million in domestic farm aid that President Biden had requested. The bill did include $20 million to begin replenishment of the Bill Emerson Humanitarian Trust, which the USDA and the U.S. Agency for International Development tapped to send food aid to the Middle East and Africa.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., noted that the bill includes $5 billion for international food aid and said it “begins to address the escalating global hunger crisis that is trailing in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war.”
“Although the horror being inflicted within Ukraine’s borders cannot be understated, this conflict will spark a far-ranging humanitarian crisis,” Leahy said.
“Tens of millions of tons of wheat, barley, maize and vegetable oil produced by Ukraine — one of the region’s breadbaskets — remains trapped in ports. This will lead to rising prices and exacerbating an already escalating global hunger crisis. This bill will go far in addressing these urgent needs.”
Leahy urged the Senate to take up the bill as soon as possible.
The Ukraine supplemental passed the House by a vote of 368 to 57.
Earlier Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., took a delegation of House members who had traveled with her to Ukraine to meet with Biden.
After that meeting, House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., told reporters that the war is not just against Ukraine but “against the world’s most vulnerable people” because Russian leader Vladimir Putin is “creating a global food crisis.”
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