Hoeven endorses increase in reference prices, prioritization in next farm bill

VAIL, Colo. — Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and a high-ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said today, Aug. 3, that the reference prices that trigger crop farm subsidy payments should be adjusted upward in the next farm bill.

In a virtual conference with the American Sugar Alliance, which is meeting here, Hoeven said the reference prices for the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs need to be adjusted. Many farm groups have called for increases in their testimony before the House and Senate Agriculture committees this year on the grounds that underlying conditions have changed since the 2018 farm bill was passed.

After prioritization, Hoeven said, it is important for farm groups to be together in a coalition and to think very carefully about new proposals.

“I am concerned about all these new great ideas,” Hoeven said, adding that he meant conservation and what House progressive Democrats call the Green New Deal. Some of the proponents think the ideas have not been tried in the past when they have, Hoeven said. He added that he is worried about the effort “to push” these policies on producers and that those programs might “push out” what farmers want.

But Hoeven also warned the sugar growers that farm leaders need to prioritize what they want from the next farm bill.

Farmers need to “team up” and show up either will phone calls or in person to talk to members of Congress, he said. “That team approach is vitally important to getting things done.”

Told that Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, believes the safety net needs to be strengthened, Hoeven said, “It needs to be, it has to be updated.”

“With stagflation, it is important to maintain the sugar program,” Hoeven said. It’s also important to “make sure there is crop insurance,” he added.

Hoeven said he hopes the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act, which the Democrats hope to pass under reconciliation rules, is derailed because the country is in a state of stagflation, not just inflation. The Democratic plan is to raise taxes and spend money, Hoeven said.

Hoeven did not mention the $40 billion in agriculture and biofuels programs in the bill, which some agriculture advocates say could be vital to raising the baseline available for the next farm bill.


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