Rep. Meadows, Sen. Grassley, Sen. Durbin, and Rep. Kind Send Letter Urging Farm Bill Reforms for Small and Family Farmers

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Washington, September 26, 2018 | Ben Williamson (202-225-6401) | comments

Rep. Meadows, Sen. Grassley, Sen. Durbin, and Rep. Kind Send Letter Urging Farm Bill Reforms for Small and Family Farmers

Washington, DC – This week, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) joined Sen. Chuck Grassley, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) in a bipartisan letter calling on Farm Bill conferees to consider reforms targeting the abuses of Title I subsidy payments in the language of the 2018 House Farm Bill.

The letter comes after a bipartisan group of members in both chambers have raised concerns that some farm subsidy recipients knowingly reorganize their businesses as pass-through businesses to receive federal assistance meant for small and family farmers struggling financially. Farm subsidy recipients must be “actively engaged” in farming to receive assistance. But the Government Accountability Office recently reported that almost one-fourth of farm subsidy recipients did not personally provide labor on the farm. As the Congressional letter states, current law allows most farms who reorganize as general partnerships or joint ventures to designate an unlimited number of “farm managers,” allowing for a collection of additional farm subsidies. This makes it difficult to institute meaningful payment limits within this safety net program—resulting in the abuse of payments at the expense of small family farms and young farmers.

The 2018 Farm Bill is being debated by a bicameral Conference Committee. Provisions in the Senate’s Farm Bill more closely align with the needs of small and family farmers, and curtail the abuse of subsidy payments.  The bipartisan letter urges conferees to support and maintain the reforms contained in the Senate version.

Rep. Meadows released the following statement on the Farm Bill conference negotiations:

“Unfortunately, CBO confirms exceptions in the law permit federal agriculture payments greater than $125,000 go to certain large agricultural organizations and even executives on Wall Street. We need a Farm Bill that provides an actual safety net to actual farmers—not one that funnels money to large organizations. I am glad to work with my colleagues Senator Grassley, Senator Durbin, and Rep. Kind, to return the farm bill to whom it should be for: actual farmers.”

Rep. Kind added the following:

“This response from the CBO once again proves that Washington is lavishing huge taxpayer subsidies on millionaires and billionaires, leaving America’s small and family farmers behind. The Farm Bill’s Title I section is an unacceptable misuse of taxpayer dollars, and must be fixed before it leaves conference committee. This is Washington incentivizing poor behavior.”

The current Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2018. You can read the full letter here.

You can also find more information regarding this policy here, here, and here. The Government Accountability Office report may be accessed here.

Representative Meadows introduced a standalone bill to provide a true farm safety net end this assistance misuse here.


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