Grassley to offer payment limits amendment on Senate floor
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who failed to get a payment limitations amendment considered in the Senate Agriculture Committee markup today due to procedural problems, said he will offer a payment limitation amendment when the bill comes up on the Senate floor.
“Farm programs should provide temporary, limited assistance to farmers when there’s a natural disaster or an unforeseeable, sudden change in market prices,” Grassley said in a news release. “Setting sound, enforceable limits to farm safety net payments is a straightforward way to exercise fiscal responsibility and close loopholes that exploit the intent of farm programs that allow some non-farmers to game the system and take resources away from real, working farmers. I’ve been an advocate for making these reforms for more than a decade, so you can imagine my disappointment that they weren’t included in the committee’s legislation. I intend to offer an amendment on the Senate floor to include common-sense payment limits in the 2018 farm bill. A similar amendment passed the Senate in the last farm bill and should pass again.”
Grassley did not provide details of his amendment in his statement, but the Food and Environment Reporting Network said it would impose a $125,000 limit per recipient and “create a ‘hard’ cap on payments and limit subsidies to farmers, their spouses and one ‘manager’ per farm. Similar language was adopted by the House and Senate for the 2014 farm law, but it was deleted from the final version of the bill. The Republican-written House farm bill would make cousins, nieces and nephews eligible for subsidies and remove payment limits on some types of corporate farms.”
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., told reporters he expects Grassley to get a vote on a payment limits amendment on the Senate floor, as he has during past farm bill debates. Roberts declined to give his opinion of the Grassley amendment, saying that he is not sure what is in it.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, which represents smaller, environmental-minded farmers, said its members were “deeply disappointed” that Grassley did not get to offer his amendment because it would place “a hard cap on the total amount of commodity program payments and benefits any one farm can receive annually, and would have strengthened ‘actively engaged’ rules to ensure that large operations cannot endlessly multiply payments by adding non-farm investors.”
The Environmental Working Group and five conservative groups — the R Street Institute, the National Taxpayers Union, the Heritage Foundation, Taxpayers for Common Sense and Citizens Against Government Waste — called today for further farm subsidy reform.
–The Hagstrom Report