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House Bill to Cap Farm Payments Joins Senate Version

House Bill to Cap Farm Payments Joins Senate Version

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry introduces Farm Program Integrity Act in House, still hope to include legislation in House Farm Bill debate

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Thursday revealed legislation that would cap farm payments and close loopholes in farm program eligibility.

The bill, "Farm Program Integrity Act of 2013," is identical to a Senate version introduced in February by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and released as part of the Senate's 2013 draft Farm Bill. The House Ag Chairman's mark of the Farm Bill, however, does not include Fortenberry's legislation.

The legislation would place limits on farm payments to ensure the payments go to working farmers. The bill would also allow payments to go to one manager in addition to the working farmer.

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry introduces Farm Program Integrity Act in House; still hope to include bill in Farm Bill debate

"Under current law, the top 10% of farm payment recipients collect nearly 70%of all payments," Fortenberry said. "The Farm Program Integrity Act seeks to level the playing field for farm families by establishing meaningful payment limitations on large farms and closing loopholes that currently benefit investors not actively engaged in farming."

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, supporters of the bill, said it mirrors Sen. Grassley's bill of the same name that limits annual farm subsidy payments to $250,000 per commodity.

According to bill text, Grassley's legislation also establishes a per-farm cap of $50,000 on all commodity program benefits except those associated with the marketing loan program, which would be capped at $75,000.

The $50,000 cap would also apply to any new farm bill programs.

Grassley said Friday in a press statement he was pleased to see Rep. Fortenberry's legislation introduced, but urged the House to reconsider adding the provisions to their version of the Farm Bill, noting it would send "a strong message if the House included the common sense and meaningful payment limit reforms in Congressman Fortenberry’s bill and that Senator Stabenow has included in her mark."

NSAC Policy Director Ferd Hoefner also expressed appreciation for the legislation, explaining that it would "put an end to widespread abuse in farm commodity programs."

"In every survey and poll on this issue over the years, a strong majority of farmers in all regions of the country support payment limit reform," Hoefner said. "Fiscal pressures have turned much-needed scrutiny on farm programs.  The current consensus is that unlimited taxpayer subsidies are no longer justifiable."

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