Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Monday, October 03, 2005

UPDATE - Payment Limits - Budget Reconciliation

- from the desk of John Crabtree,, Center for Rural Affairs

Senate Agriculture Committee Budget Markup?

In late breaking news, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) said today he would like to mark up the agriculture portion of the budget reconciliation bill on Thursday (October 6). We will probably not know for sure if this will formally be scheduled until tomorrow or Wednesday. But we are taking the chairman’s statement of intent quite seriously.

This year’s Congressional Budget Resolution calls for House and Senate Agriculture Committees to find $3 billion in farm bill savings, and they must report their bills no later than October 26. The Chambliss-proposed Oct. 6 markup date is unusual in that it falls right before a weeklong recess, and typically one doesn’t want to give opponents of your bill an extra week to organize against it. If it does not happen next week, markup would likely be scheduled for sometime during October 18 to 25 timeframe.

Have you taken action yet?

And so, we once again ask you to contact your Senators about establishing effective payment limitations for federal farm programs.

The most effective thing Congress could do to strengthen family farms and rural communities is establish payments limitations and stop the unlimited subsidies that help mega farms drive smaller operations out of business.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and a bipartisan team of Senate cosponsors are leading the fight for a proposal to implement real payments limitations on federal farm programs, placing the cap at $250,000.

CALL - 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator, they will connect you. Ask your Senators to support farm payment limits in budget reconciliation.

If you live in Iowa - you can also take another step

CALL Representative Jim Nussle's office --- 202-225-2911

Representative Nussle chairs the House Budget Committee and will be a powerful voice in the final decision on this issue when Senate and House Budget Reconciliation bills are worked on in conference committee.

And, next week (or more precisely, this weekend) Congress is coming home for a one week recess.

Shortly after they return later in October, they will resolve the final issues relating to the federal budget reconciliation. In particular, they will decide how to cut $3 billion out of spending on agriculture.

They have two choices, they can cut across the board - cut conservation (like the conservation security program); rural development; cooperative and value-added development; food and nutrition programs (like food stamps and WIC - Women, Infants and Children nutrition program) - the very programs that help family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as well as many of the most disadvantaged American children and families.

OR - Congress can, instead, choose to limit payments to the nation's largest farms by enacting the Grassley - Dorgan payment limits proposal.

The choice really is that stark. Cut spending that makes a difference for family farmers and ranchers, rural communities and American children living in poverty. Or, reduce (not eliminate, just cap) unlimited, sometimes multi-million dollar subsidies to mega farms.

And you have the chance to make your voice heard. Contact your Senators' offices, urge them to support the payment limitations that Senator Grassley and Senator Dorgan have proposed.

Ask your Senators to let you know when they will be in or near your community so that you can talk with them about this issue - face-to-face. And when they come, bring your family, friends and neighbors with you.

Remind your members of Congress how important this issue really is, because, in many ways, the future of rural America is at stake. Remind them that the future of rural America is their future too.

John Crabtree,
402-687-2103 ext 1010
Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.


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