Peoria Journal Star
January 16, 2007
Corn growers back revenue safety net
Illinois group to lobby for policy shifts
in federal farm bill revision
WASHINGTON - As Congress prepares to rewrite the farm
bill, officials at the Illinois Corn Growers Association are
advocating a shift to a revenue-based safety net, policies that
are more trade-friendly and a continued emphasis on biofuels.
"The majority of growers believe that federal farm policy
shouldn't guarantee producer profitability, but rather provide
more of a reasonable financial safety net based on low income
rather than low prices," association President Steve Ruh, of Sugar
Grove, said Monday.
The group announced its formal support for the revenue-based
safety net concept last November, after surveying its members by
mail and in listening sessions last fall.
The idea is to replace price-based subsidies with subsidies
that would be based on farm revenue, factoring in production,
price and farm costs.
The National Corn Growers Association has been working on a
revenue-based approach but hasn't formally endorsed a plan yet.
The Iowa Corn Growers Association also has endorsed the concept,
which Ruh said bolsters the Illinois group's position when
lobbying on Capitol Hill.
The majority of association members also believe market access
and a trade-friendly farm bill - one that would be acceptable to
U.S. trading partners - will be critical to the profitability of
Illinois corn growers.
Canada has recently announced a challenge to U.S. subsidies for
corn and other crops in a petition with the World Trade
The Illinois corn growers also showed strong opposition to
reducing funding for farm program payments in order to fund a
permanent disaster assistance program, as some key congressional
leaders have advocated.
Growers also support efforts to put more emphasis on biofuel
programs in the new farm bill, Ruh said.
Corn growers, like other farm groups, expect there to be less
money available for farm programs given the cost of the war in
Iraq and Democrats' pledge to address the federal deficit.
The Bush administration is expected to make its proposal for
the new farm bill in late January or early February. Agriculture
Secretary Mike Johanns frequently stresses conservation, rural
development and renewable energy.
Dori Meinert can be reached at (202)737-7686 or