Friday, September 19, 2008

Committee votes to lift new Farm Bill rule barring subsidies to farm plots smaller than 10 acres

The House Agriculture Committee has voted to suspend, for the 2008 and 2009 crop years, the new Farm Bill rule that keeps farms of less than 10 acres from receiving most forms of commodity payments. At issue is the Department of Agriculture's ruling that farmers cannot aggregate such farms to meet the 10-acre threshold. "Chairman Collin Peterson said the Ag Department’s interpretation of the minimum acreage requirement ... was not the intent of Congress," reports Bob Meyer of Brownfield Network. "No one knows for sure just where the bill goes from here but something would have to happen quickly as the Senate plans to adjourn for the year on Friday, Sept. 26."

The 10-acre rule, or its suspension, would have a major impact in some Appalachian and Midwestern states, according to Farm Service Agency data reported by Agri-Pulse. In Kentucky and Virginia, 44 percent of farms have a direct commodity payment base of 10 acres or less; the figure in North Carolina and Pennsylvania is 38 percent. Wisconsin has the largest number of such farms, 37,329 (32 percent of its total number of farms), followed by North Carolina with 30,571 farms, Ohio with 30,276 (24 percent), Kentucky with 28,657, Illinois with 26,738 (14 percent) and Michigan with 25,344 (30 percent).

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