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Jan. 10, 2014
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.
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.
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.