Offsets Still the Major Problem for Farm Bill

However optimism is high that the bill will be completed by deadline.

Published on: Apr 3, 2008

Congress returned to Washington this week and negotiations on the Farm Bill continue. Members are working on the assumption that they will have the $10 billion above baseline that all parties have agreed upon. The only problem is that the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees are still working on offsets to pay for that additional funding. Although there has been talk that hopes are fading for the Farm Bill, Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, doesn't agree.

"Things have been more positive in the last two weeks than ever," Grassley says. "Remember it's not just a passing of Congress, it's trying to get a bill that the President won't veto, and that's a rough combination."

Last month Grassley reintroduced payment limitations into Farm Bill discussions, but very little has been done at the member level due to the two-week Easter recess. Grassley says there is a lot of push back from cotton and rice against payment limitations, but he is committed to it. However he concedes that there may not be much life in it because though it received 56 votes in the Senate it fell short of the 60 vote super majority.

"The White House is still pushing adjusted gross income limitations," Grassley says. "So that pretty much keeps the issue alive, maybe not exactly in the way I would do it, but one that would have several advantages."

Grassley says the advantages include reducing support to farmers who don't need it, helping younger farmers get started and keep urban support for the Farm Bill.