Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa appeared on KIOW and reiterated his call for action on the proposed farm and nutrition bill. Grassley wants to see the bill come up for a vote because the current law is not achieving needed relief for those affected by it. According to Grassley, the ongoing farm and nutrition bill negotiations between the House and the Senate needs to get done now.
“We are coming to a critical time in the farm and nutrition bill conference committee negotiations.” said Grassley. “Current negotiations include possible changes to the actively engaged criteria and requiring the use of planted acres or base acres in commodity programs. There’s no question that the current actively engaged law isn’t working. The non-partisan Government Accountability Office wrote in a report this fall that changes needed to be made and the legislative language in the Senate passed farm bill would be an appropriate fix.”
“Besides, the actively engaged provisions are the same in both the House and Senate bills. So, we have the two bills with the exact same language and a scathing report from the GAO. There is no reason for these provisions to even be a part of the discussion. We need to close loopholes that have allowed non-farmers to game the system. The longer we let this happen, the easier it will be for opponents of farm programs to argue for no farm bill. And, quite honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can promote closing loopholes for food stamps if they don’t also support closing the loopholes non-farmers, many of whom have other significant income, are using.”
Grassley then told KIOW News about his frustration with a continuing debate on acreage. “Another issue I’m surprised is still being debated is the use of planted acres vs. base acres for the commodity title. The House bill uses extremely high target prices for some crops that are then coupled with planted acres. I assume this is to drive up acreages for certain crops. The press has reported that Ranking Member Peterson has made it no secret that was his exact intent for Barley, and the reason he insisted it have a high target price.
Grassley warned, “Enacting the House commodity title will take us backwards to a time when farmers planted for the government instead of the market. And, if anyone thinks we’re immune to World Trade Organization challenges, I would remind them that U.S. taxpayers have sent the citizens of Brazil $146 million for the last several years because our cotton program was considered too market distorting.”
Grassley continued that, “Yet, even with the statement by Ranking Member Peterson, possible WTO challenges, and concerns with the government picking winners and losers in the commodity program, I’m hearing Chairman Lucas and his staff are trying to convince people that there is no reason to be troubled about any of these concerns with regard to planted acres.”
Grassley emphasized that the importance of the farm bill and how needed to be passed immediately so that proper aid can be delivered to those it effects. He told KIOW News, “I want to get a farm bill done, but I also want to vote for a good bill that is defensible.”