Congress is struggling to pass a new Farm Bill- which is required once every 5 years. This important piece of legislation provides funding for important agricultural and environmental programs which support our farmers as well as funding for programs that help put food in the hands of folks who need it most. 

What’s the Hold Up?

A major faultline in the Farm Bill negotiations is a proposal to increase “reference prices” for farms covered under the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program.  “Reference prices” are the baseline payouts that a farm would receive should a dip in the market price of their commodity cause them losses. Only farms which produce a handful of crop types, such as corn or soybeans, can benefit from PLC. Many types of crops, including fruits and vegetables, are left out of this type of insurance coverage.

At first glance, an increase in the compensation a farm receives for their losses may sound like a good thing. Farming is a risky business, after all.  However, the current proposal for reference price increases would raise the cost of the PLC by an estimated $20 to $50 billion. Since the PLC makes payments based on the number of acres a farm has enrolled in the program, larger farms have the opportunity to benefit more than smaller ones. As the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition notes in their recent Unsustainable: State of the Farm Safety Net Report, the PLC’s benefits primarily go to the commodity farms in the top 10 to 20 percent of crop sales, concentrating funds at the top. As an example, in 2021 the top ten percent of farmers received roughly 80% of payments from the PLC, according to the Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy Database.

Reforms to farm insurance should focus on making it easier for smaller farms to have a safety net, not put more money into the hands of those who already see tremendous benefit from the program. Prioritizing limited funds in this manner threatens funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, formerly known as “food stamps”) as well as popular conservation programs aimed at supporting sustainable practices on farms. 

Missouri and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a federal program that provides benefits in order to help households to pay for food. In 2023, over 600,000 Missourians benefited from SNAP. Funding for SNAP is a vital resource for Missourians and should not be expanded in the Farm Bill. 

Conservation Program Usage in Missouri

Traditionally, the Farm Bill provides support for a number of valuable initiatives centered on supporting sustainable agriculture and conservation. Notable programs include the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environment Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). Both CSP and EQIP are voluntary programs that provide funds to farmers so that they can make desired changes to their operation in support of sustainable practices. 

CSP is the largest land conservation program in the nation– with millions of acres enrolled in the program. It supports farmers who wish to make use of conservation practices on their land through 5 year contracts. EQIP is another sizable Farm Bill program which allows farmers to apply for funding to begin implementing a specific conservation practice. Through both of these programs, farmers can access technical assistance to implement the beneficial practices they want to see on their land. 

Missouri farmers benefit significantly from these programs. Between 2019 and 2023, Missouri farmers have received over 80 million dollars from CSP and over 162 million dollars from EQIP. However, demand is far outstripping the number of applications which are funded. In 2023, only 26% of Missouri farmers’ EQIP and CSP applications were funded. Nationally, 27% of 2023 EQIP and CSP applications were funded. Learn more by reading the Protect Ag Conservation’s Fact Sheet on Farm Bill Conservation in Missouri

Funding for the Farm Bill’s conservation programs supports many climate-friendly practices as well as improvements in soil health and water quality. Congress should be prioritizing expanding this funding in order to enable all farmers who want to implement conservation practices to do so, not putting more dollars towards payments to the largest farms. 


Proposals to increase reference prices would cost billions of dollars. If Congress is going to make large investments in Farm Bill programs, such money should be put to work in key programs that support the many, not the few. Tell your legislator and tell them you want them to increase funding where it is most needed- in programs like SNAP, CSP, and EQIP- not for programs that benefit very few. Find their contact information below and give them a call! 

Contact you Missouri Senators and Representatives!

Find out which of these legislators are yours here

  • Sen.Eric Schmitt (R-MO): 202-224-5721
  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO): 
  • Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO 1st District): 202-226-3717 
  • Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO 2nd District): 202-225-1621
  • Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO 3rd District): 202-225-2956
  • Rep. Mark Alford (R-MO 4th District): 202-225-2876
  • Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO 5th District): 202-225-4535
  • Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO 6th District): 202-225-7041
  • Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO 7th District): 202-225-6536
  • Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO 8th District): 202-225-4404