Payment limits in the farm bill have gotten a fair amount of play recently – some for the positive, some for the negative. But the Center for Rural Affairs is rallying the troops with a petition to make sure limits are included in a conference report, rumored to be due out before the end of the month despite continued discussion among farm bill conferees.
Both the House and the Senate bills have language that support payment limits, originally sponsored in the Senate by Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and in the House by Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb. It caps farm subsidies for individuals at $125,000 or married couples at $250,000, and defines eligibility rules for subsidy recipients.
Center for Rural Affairs Senior Associate for Ag and Conservation Policy Traci Bruckner told South Dakota radio station WNAX that the rules ensure payments aren't preserved for "millionaire farmers."
And, while the principal negotiators on the bill haven't taken recent stances on payment limits in a final report, Bruckner said the southern delegation doesn't favor them.
"The fact that big ag lobbies and big businesses think they can lean on a few key policy makers in this conference committee and try to strip that from the bill represents a really undemocratic process," Bruckner said.
"The vote has happened, this is in both bills, and it would be absolutely ludicrous to think that this could be stripped in backroom deal-making," she added.
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According to Grassley, new cost estimates released by the Congressional Budget Office on Thursday show that payment limits would save $387 million over 10 years – an additional $210 million over previous estimates.
"With a $17 trillion debt, any additional savings are a tremendous benefit," Grassley said. "The majority of Congress backs these provisions and the last two presidents have been supportive of significant reform like this," Grassley noted in a statement.
"Both the House and Senate bills contain our common sense reforms. It's a no brainer to keep the provisions as is. It would be short-sighted to allow a parochial mindset to undermine important and necessary reforms."