By Steve Robinson | November 22, 2016 - 10:05 pm
Posted in Category: The Normalite

Farm Assets ConferenceNORMAL – With a new administration coming to Washington in January, a number of concerns related to the farming could be front and center in 2017.

The 2018 Farm Bill was among those subjects discussed at the Annual Farm Assets Conference, held Nov. 22 at the Carol A. Reitan Conference Center, located at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel. The conference was sponsored by Illinois Public Media and University of Illinois Extension Office.

The day-long event began with a two-hour session devoted to the 2018 Farm Bill which, if Congress passes it that year, would continue current legislation which was last passed in 2012. The current Farm Bill expires in September 2018.

Some 150 farmers participated in the morning session during which an electronic survey was taken to find out what farmers thought were the most critical issues. High on that list were Federal and State Regulations, and marketing of biofuels. At the low end of items of concern for farmers participating was value-added farming.

A total of 61 percent of those in attendance said conservation was an important element to have in the farm bill.

Crop insurance was another hot topic for discussion, and has become a $9 billion industry, explained Gary Schnitkey, agricultural economist at the U. of I. Extension Office. “When the 2018 Farm Bill is debated in Washington, that will have a pretty large target on its back,” he added.

“Crop insurance has gotten a larger, larger focus in the Farm Bill,” attendees learned from Jonathan Coppess, clinical assistant professor at the U. of I., adding crop insurance is the largest single spending item in the Farm Bill. He added crop insurance is heavily used but also attracts attention from politicians. He added Federal assistance covers 62 percent of crop insurance.

In an interview following his speech to the meeting, Coppess said, “Market prices for the crop will continue to be a big issue because the crop is a means of income and being able to manage financially” for farmers.

“With the new administration that’s coming in, a lot of focus has been on trade,” Coppess added. “Trade is incredibly important to farmers in this state and throughout the country. How the Donald Trump administration handles existing trade agreements and future trade issues is, I think, a big concern everybody has.”

Before coming to U. of I., Coppess served as chief counsel to the Senate Agriculture Committee from 2011-13. At that time, the current Farm Bill was being hammered out in Congress.

Coppess said with the U. S. trading in corn and soybeans with Mexico, and in soybeans with China, “a lot of farmers are looking to see how President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric translates into governing.”

“Trade is one of those things that can have a ripple effect, “Coppess said. For example, he added, a trade dispute with China could lead to possible retaliatory actions.

How crop insurance gets addressed, Coppess said, depends on the approach Congress takes to handle budget issues overall.

State’s Only Farming State Senator Receives Honor: State Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) was honored as the 2016 Friend of Ag Award Recipient by the Illinois Corn Growers Association. The Friend of Ag Award seeks to honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the Illinois agricultural industry and who have sought to represent agriculture in the highest accord. Sullivan, the lone working farmer in the State Senate, is retiring at the end of his term.

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