Farm Payment Cap Proposals Begin for 2012 Farm Bill

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota are proposing a 250-thousand dollar per couple hard cap on farm payments as part of the next farm bill – a bill whose future’s still in question.
 

The cap includes a 150-thousand limit per couple on marketing loan gains and 100-thousand in other safety net payments – minus direct payments not likely in a new farm bill. Both Senators also go after payments to non-farmers. Grassley…
 

“This bill, much like the previous version, attempts to close loopholes in actively engaged provisions of our law. After I introduced the previous version last year, we had some very real, good discussion with interested people on possible improvements.”
 

Now worked into the bill – Grassley says – adding that Senate Ag is expected to start writing the farm bill sometime in the coming weeks. But with a bi-partisan opposition to House Budget Chair Paul Ryan’s proposed farm bill cuts – Grassley was asked if it’s time to plan for an extension of existing farm law…
 

“No, I wouldn’t do that until June, maybe July even. Assuming we get a bill out of committee in May, we should proceed. And I think Reed mentioned that they’d like to get an agriculture bill up in May, I thin kit’s impossible to get one up in May, but, if he wants to get on up in May, maybe he’ll still want to get it up in June.”
 

Referring to Majority Leader Harry Reid. Grassley concedes the farm bill could be extended – but warns it would be with a whole lot less money. Budget Chair Ryan’s proposing some 33-billion in farm bill cuts – versus 23-billion agreed to by the two Ag Chairs.
 

And Ryan goes after more than much-criticized direct payments – and would try to further reform highly popular crop insurance subsidies. Grassley says farmers worry about more cuts…
 

“Since they worry about more savings, and that might hurt the viability of the program, then I’m going to represent that point of view. But, you have to understand that I never really have taken a position that “X” number of dollars can’t be saved in the past. I’ve always taken the approach that we need to have a viable system of insurance and a viable core of people that can serve the farmers”
 

Other ag lawmakers sharply criticize a further assault on crop insurance and argue Ryan’s plan – already rejected by Reid in the Senate – would kill any chance of a farm bill this year.
 


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