Saturday, September 08, 2007

Iowa Republican Grassley is optimistic about a Senate vote to cap commodity payments

As the Senate tackles the Farm Bill, Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, want its version to include "a firm cap on commodity program payments of $250,000," Dan Look of Successful Farming magazine writes on Looker reports that Grassley is optimistic he will have the votes to have the limits included in the bill.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Grassley said getting limits in the final House-Senate conference version should be helped by the Democratic takeover of the House, reports Tom Steever of Brownfield Network. "I believe that the philosophical approach of (House Agriculture Committee) Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is much different than it was for the Republican chairman," Grassley said. (Read more)

Grassley and Dorgan say their payment limits, which would be much lower apply more broadly than current limits, would help younger farmers. Philip Brasher of The Des Moines Register quotes a letter they sent the Senate Agriculture Committee: "The current payment limits promote farm consolidation, artificially increase land prices, and create barriers for a new generation of farmers eager to enter the industry." (Read more)

In an op-ed piece in the Fargo Forum, Dorgan writes that "a new farm bill must end the practice of providing giant payments to giant corporate farms that have nothing to do with family farming." He continues, "The purpose of a farm bill is to help family farmers through tough times. It was never meant to be a set of golden arches for big corporations that want to farm the farm program."

David Mercer of The Associated Press reports that Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns wants the limit lowered from the House bill's figure of $1 million. Current law sets a limit of $2.5 million. (Read more)

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