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Fortenberry, Grassley urge farm subsidy reformTell North Platte what you think

A Nebraska congressman and an Iowa senator encouraged a national Farm Bill committee Wednesday to make key reforms regarding farm payment limitations.

The House-Senate committee are conferring on a new five-year farm bill, after nearly a year of debate over the bill.

Farm payment limits were approved earlier this year in both the House and Senate farm bills. Grassley and Fortenberry said their farm payment provisions are nearly the same in the House and the Senate bills and should not be up for negotiation amongst the committee.

The Senate and House bills tighten loopholes that allow some non-farmers to game the system.

“Our reform is common-sense,” Grassley said. “Not only does it end some of the most egregious abuses of the farm program and make sure that the farm program payments are going to those who need them most, but it saves money. It’s a win-win. When 22 people are getting farm payments for the same farm, and 70 percent of farm payments nationally go to 10 percent of the biggest farms, we’ve got a problem.”

"In this time of tight budgets, the need for this type of fair reform is even greater," Fortenberry said. "It is my hope that this important provision will carry forward into the final Farm Bill."

“After many years of discussion, farm payment limitations reform finally has a chance to become law,” Fortenberry said.

Specific provisions:

• The bills establish a per farm cap of $50,000 on all commodity crop program benefits, except those associated with the marketing loan program (loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains), which would be capped at $75,000. Thus, the combined limit would be $125,000, or, for married couples, $250,000 a year. The $50,000 cap would apply to whatever type of commodity program is developed as part of the new farm and food bill.

• The bills would define clearly the scope of people who qualify as actively engaged in the farm, by only providing management for the farm operation.

The bill will allow one off-farm manager, but only one. Landowners who "share rent" land to an actively-engaged producer remain exempt from the “actively engaged” rules, provided their payments are commensurate to their risk in production of the crop.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 10/30/2013
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