President Joe Biden Visits Illinois Soybean Farm, Announces Fresh Supports for American Farmers
BLOOMINGTON, ILL – May 11, 2022 – Today, President Joe Biden spent time on a family farm in Kankakee, Illinois, belonging to Illinois soybean farmer and Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) Board Director, Jeff O’Connor. There, he announced his administration’s three-pronged plan of action to support American farmers, reduce food prices, and feed the world.
“The pandemic combined with the Ukraine-Russia conflict has resulted in supply chain disruptions and increasing food, fuel, and fertilizer prices which are negatively impacting farm families and leading to shortages of food in countries across the globe,” says ISA Board Chairman, Steve Pitstick. “The Illinois Soybean Association is grateful for the opportunity today to discuss farmer concerns, the sustainable solutions our industry brings to the table, and to learn more about what we can be doing to relieve pain points that are echoing throughout communities around the world.”
During the farm visit, the President announced new actions to give farmers the tools and resources they need to boost production, and play a critical role in mitigating global price hikes. As the world’s second largest exporter of wheat and soybeans, these actions will help grow new markets for American-grown food, supporting jobs in rural communities across the country. These administrative flexibilities implemented by USDA could include:
• Increasing the number of counties eligible for double cropping insurance. Double cropping allows farmers to plant a second crop on the same land in the same year, helping boost production without relying on farmers to substitute crops or cultivate new land. But it is not free from risk and some farmers who practice double cropping cannot obtain crop insurance. The Biden-Harris Administration is seeking to expand insurance for double cropping to as many as 681 additional counties, bringing the total number of counties where this practice qualifies for crop insurance to as many as 1,935, so more American farmers have the financial security they need to start or expand double cropping.
• Cutting costs for farmers by increasing technical assistance for technology-driven “precision agriculture” and other nutrient management tools. Precision agriculture is a farm management system that allows farmers to use technology to target application of inputs to soil and plant needs, resulting in less fertilizer usage without reducing yields, saving farmers money over time and extending the usefulness of critical products in short supply worldwide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has planning and cost sharing assistance programs available to help American farmers with nutrient management. The Administration is working to boost outreach to farmers, streamline the application process, and prioritize application approvals to expand access to these critical programs.
• Doubling funding for domestic fertilizer production. Fertilizer prices have more than doubled since last year, due in part to supply chain disruptions created and exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including rising energy costs. Today, President Biden announced that he is doubling his initial $250 million investment in domestic fertilizer production to $500 million to lower costs and boost availability for farmers, so they can obtain the inputs they need at prices they can afford to maximize yields.
“And to all our farmers, I want you to know: we have your back,” said Biden.
Leadership from the Illinois Soybean Association spoke with Biden on the wheat double crop system, and the need for support for U.S. wheat breeding programs. Beginning in 2020 double crop wheat followed by soybeans became insurable under federal crop insurance programs for each crop instead of as previously being insured jointly. This allows greater flexibility for farmers and promoted crop rotation.
“ISA applauds the efforts being made by this Administration, specifically by Secretary Vilsack and USDA staff for reaching out to farmers across the country to hear what tools they need to increase double crop soybeans and wheat,” said Pitstick. “ISA encourages USDA to continue their aggressive outreach and collaboration to find double crop solutions that make an impact at the farm level and globally.”
The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development and utilization efforts while the membership program supports the government relations interests of Illinois soybean farmers at the local, state, and national level, through the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG). ISA upholds the interests of Illinois soybean producers through promotion, advocacy, and education with the vision of becoming a market leader in sustainable soybean production and profitability. For more information, visit the website www.ilsoy.org and www.ilsoygrowers.com.