Income Limits Still Hot Topic for Farm Bill

Ag Secretary Mike Johanns pushes concepts supported by the Bush Administration.

Published on: Aug 30, 2007

The House version of the 2007 Farm Bill is passed and awaiting a Senate version. But Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns isn't too happy with the House start, and he'd like to see the Senate get some additions into its version before their version is passed.

The challenge is the income limits on who can receive farm support. The House version has a $2 million income limit, which is 10 times what the Bush Administration proposed in its draft farm bill released earlier this year. During a panel on the Farm Bill held at the 2007 Farm Progress Show, Johanns said the Senate version of the bill would have to be closer to the Bush proposal.

Johanns says that program payments are difficult to address, but that they must be addressed or the public won't support farm programs. The Senate is expected to take up discussion of the bill later in September and Johanns is optimistic a farm bill can be passed before year-end.

"I don't think an extension of the 2002 Farm Bill is what we really want," he told a media conference during the show. "And I don't think we would want to be working on a farm bill during a presidential election."

A hot topic in the House version of the farm bill is a provision to raise taxes on foreign corporations doing business in the United States. Johanns told the Farm Progress Show crowed that no farm bill has contained a tax increase since the first one in 1933 and that was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.