WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2014 – The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) reiterated its opposition against attempts in the farm bill negotiations to change language in relation to payment limit reform.

“The issue of payment limitations for commodity programs is one of the very few remaining issues under discussion before the House-Senate farm bill conference committee can wrap up its work,” said Ferd Hoefner, NSAC policy director. “That the bipartisan reform provision included in both the House and Senate farm bills is even under debate is remarkable, as are some of the claims being made by opponents of reform.”

There is concern that conferees may kill new limits on the number of managers who can qualify for farm program payments, which are strongly opposed by southern farm groups. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, among others, have expressed worries that conferees also would kick his language tightening the definition of “actively engaged” over to USDA in an effort to kill it.

The language aims to keep off-farm managers from qualifying for federal farm payments. According to a recent Congressional Budget Office score, it would save $387 million over 10 years, or $210 million more than previous estimates. Both the Senate and House farm bill proposals would cap annual farm commodity payments at $125,000 for an individual or $250,000 for married couples.

Hoefner said there have been “continuing misleading statements” by opponents of farm program payment limit reform that the provision contained in both the House and Senate farm bills. “The fundamental issue is whether or not the payment limits, enshrined by Congress in farm bills for four decades, are real or fake,” he said. “Under current law, they are fake. They can fairly easily be sidestepped by adding more and more farm managers to a general partnership that controls the farm.”

The full NSAC statement can be viewed here.


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