Today Farm Action and other farmer-led groups sent a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR) urging them to reject proposals to increase reference prices for commodities under the farm bill’s Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program.
PLC is a farm bill safety net program that provides federal assistance when the average price a farmer receives for commodity crops like corn and soybeans drops below a certain threshold, or “reference price.” Calls for reference price increases come as costs for farm inputs like fertilizer skyrocket and farmers see their profits plummet.
However, “we believe reference price increases are a misguided solution,” the farm groups argue in the letter, noting that “the input industries responsible for high input costs are the very same ones who stand to benefit from this change.” The groups further explain that any increase to reference prices will “ultimately be captured by just a few large corporations,” further entrenching a few monopoly corporations’ hold over the U.S. food and farm system.
The letter points to Farm Action’s research, which reveals that farm input corporations already tie the price of their products to commodity prices received by farmers. “In effect, these corporations tie the price of their products to the farmer’s ability to pay, rather than to supply and demand factors — which equates to an abuse of the market. Such abuses allow concentrated corporations to extract maximum profit out of the pockets of farmers, including increases in government payments.”
The letter shows that Yara, a top nitrogen supplier in the United States, has already admitted that “[v]ariations in grain prices (corn or wheat) explain approximately 50% of the variations in the urea price, making grain prices one of the most important factors driving fertilizer prices.”
The groups sent the letter in advance of tomorrow’s hearing about commodities hosted by the Subcommittee on Commodities, Risk Management, and Trade.
Media Contact: Dee Laninga, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-450-0094