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News Brief

Jan. 10, 2014

INS Farm Bill Negotiations

As Congress nears the finish line on a new Farm Bill, there's concern that a provision to help keep family farms strong may be 'watered-down' – or not included at all in the final legislation. Both the Senate and House versions of the bill include a strict limit on certain types of payments to farmers. Some want those limits removed, but that would be a mistake, says Chris Petersen, a producer in Clear Lake and past president of the Iowa Farmers Union.

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The provision, from Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, would close loopholes that allow non-farmers to 'game the system.' It would also focus payments that help small and medium sized farms when commodity prices are low, although Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has taken a softer position, noting there are different sized operations in different parts of the country.

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Lawmakers have been debating the Farm Bill for more than two years. The next meeting of the Conference Committee could come as early as next week, with a number of differences that remain to be resolved.