May 17, 2022

Biden announces plan to help farmers, lower food costs

The Biden administration this week announced three priorities to help American farmers amid the global supply chain challenges and the spike in food prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) says the efforts alone will not solve the multiple challenges faced by growers. 

Those priorities announced by the Biden administration include increasing funding for domestic fertilizer production, increasing the number of counties eligible for double cropping insurance and greater access to technical assistance for technology-driven precision and agriculture and other nutrient management tools.

“I stand here today to thank American farmers who are the breadbasket of democracy,” Biden said during his speech on an Illinois farm on May 11. “We can make sure that American agricultural exports will make up for the gap in Ukrainian supplies.”

During the Illinois farm visit, Biden shared that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will double funding available for domestic fertilizer production from $250 million to $500 million.

“We’re going to see what actions we can take to increase fertilizer supplies globally,” Biden said. “We’re also going to see how we can work together to prevent export restrictions on food and agricultural inputs and bring more global production to market which will stabilize prices and bring more certainty to our farmers and keep people from dying of hunger.”

The skyrocketing costs of fertilizer and other supplies may limit what some farmers can afford to grow, but the proposal to increase domestic fertilizer production is an acknowledgement by the administration of the extraordinarily high cost of supplies for farmers and ranchers. However, getting a fertilizer facility established and running will likely cost billions of dollars and take several years.

USDA also will open the double cropping insurance floor to a total of 1,935 counties—up from 681 counties in the initial announcement.

The efforts to address production costs and food prices are appreciated, but it will require more solutions to solve the multiple challenges facing Americans, TFB President Russell Boening noted.

“Texas farmers and ranchers acknowledge and appreciate the efforts, but this alone will not solve the multiple challenges we face,” Boening said. “We look forward to working with the administration, USDA and the private sector to get the supply chain moving again and find solutions that benefit farmers, ranchers and consumers.”

USDA says double cropping will boost production without substituting crops or cultivating new land, but as the American Farm Bureau Federation noted, it is not a viable option or sound practice in some areas. The Biden administration, however, says there is a plan to address the risks.

“The growing season for wheat is short and if the weather conditions aren’t ideal or there are other disruptions, then the timing of everything is thrown off,” Biden said. “But it’s a risk we need to take, and that’s why my administration is looking at how to extend crop insurance coverage to give financial security to farmers.”

Increasing technical assistance for precision agriculture and other nutrient management tools will allow farmers and ranchers to continue building on their strong record of climate-smart farming practices.

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