Senate gets deep into farm bill amendments

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After nearly a month of hold-ups, the Senate finally began debating its farm bill Tuesday. Thursday the much anticipated payment limitation amendment will be debated. It appears that Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln has threatened to filibuster the Grassley-Dorgan payment limitation amendment. To prevent filibuster, it will require 60 votes. Senators agreed to 20 amendments from each the Republican and Democrat side as well as a "managers amendment" that lumps more than 80 amendments together into one.

Here are the specifics of the Grassley-Dorgan bill:

Here are specifics of the amendment.

  • Set a hard, enforceable cap of $250,000 for payments received by any one individual on an annual basis.
  • Limit the amount that farms could receive under specific programs to $40,000 for direct and fixed payments, $60,000 for counter-cyclical and average crop revenue payments, and $150,000 for marketing loan gains and loan deficiency payments.
  • Close the loopholes that allow farms to receive many multiple times the unenforceable current nominal cap of $360,000.
  • Require individuals be actively engaged in farming to receive payments, adopting recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office and the USDA Payment Limitations Commission established by the last farm bill.
  • Thwart fraud and abuse of the system and improve enforcement by moving to measurable standards, new rules preventing one farmer from qualifying multiple corporations to collectively receive payments exceeding the limits, and making ineligible for five years anyone who commits fraud to evade limits.

Peterson Announces Short Term Plan to Continue Farm Bill Programs

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson announced plans to include language to continue certain Farm Bill programs on a short-term basis in legislation that Congress is expected to pass before the end of this year.

"This provision will protect the budget we have for the Farm Bill that Congress is currently writing," Chairman Peterson said. "We have seen promising movement in the Senate, and I am confident that we can finish work on the farm bill early next year. This interim step to continue programs through mid-March will ensure that we have the time and resources we need to get the job done."

The language will provide short-term continuing authority through March 15, 2008 for most programs in the 2002 Farm Bill in order to avoid budgetary changes before the new bill can be completed. It will not extend the 2002 commodity support programs to the 2008 crop year. Program provisions for the 2008 crop will be included in the new farm bill.

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