Farm and Nutrition Bill Mark-Up Begins Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 30 April 2012 10:21

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry

“The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012” Mark-Up

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thank you Madam Chairwoman.  I appreciate all the work you and Ranking Member Roberts have put into this farm bill so far.  And while we still have a ways to go in the process, we are headed in the right direction.

The farm bill is never an easy process, and it certainly isn’t any easier under the current budget conditions.  We are dealing with a broad range of issues that are important to Americans, from conservation to nutrition.  It’s important we get a bill done this year.

Many of the members of this committee have come together in supporting what many farmers say is the most important piece of the safety-net, crop insurance.  We have worked for 30 years to make it an effective risk management tool.  And farmers have skin in the game with crop insurance, and that’s good policy.

There has been a lot of debate about the programs this committee is going to create to replace direct payments.  I still have reservations about a Title 1 revenue program, and its potential interaction with crop insurance.  But I understand the reality that there is fairly broad support for a revenue program.

I commend the Chair and Ranking Member on providing a high level of defensibility to the Chairwoman’s mark.  Accepting my proposal for a $50,000 payment cap on the commodity program is crucial to ensure that we all can go to the Senate floor and defend this bill.

And I am pleased we are finally closing the loopholes in actively engaged.  My amendment, which was accepted into the modified mark, will help ensure farm payments go to farmers, not doctors, lawyers, and celebrities.

There is no justification for allowing nonfarmers to receive farm payments.  And that is particularly true in this current budget climate.  The payment limits reform in the Chairwoman’s mark is something this committee should be very proud of.

I’m not going to ask for a vote today on my packer ban amendment, but I still want to say few things about it.

For too long, large meat packers have had an unfair advantage in the market place.  At some point, Congress has to address the fact that independent livestock producers are entitled to a level playing field.

One big step Congress could take to solve the competition problems is banning packer ownership of livestock.  As one packer executive once told me, packers own livestock so that when prices are high, they kill their own livestock, when prices are low, they buy from the farmer.

Banning packer ownership of livestock will help us ensure our livestock producers are able to compete in the marketplace.

Thank you Madam Chairwoman, and I look forward to moving an effective and defensible farm bill out of this committee.

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