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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Harkin May Not Include Tough Payment Caps in His Farm Bill

Harkin May Not Include Tough Payment Caps in His Farm Bill

exerpted from Agriculture Online story by Dan Looker, Successful Farming Business Editor

Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), who remains a strong supporter of putting a firm cap on commodity program payments, said Thursday that he may not include a strict payment limit in the farm bill he will submit to his committee.

"We'll have a vigorous debate. We'll probably have it in the committee and we'll have it on the floor (of the full Senate)," he told reporters Thursday.

Harkin was asked to respond to a comment that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson made at the Farm Bureau convention in Salt Lake City this week. Peterson said passing a farm bill would be difficult without support from Southern members of Congress, who have opposed capping program payments.

Harkin said that "in a sense, he's right" referring to Peterson's recognition of the regional politics of the payment limits issue. Some large commercial corn and wheat farmers would be affected by a firm cap, but cotton and rice farmers are likely to be the hardest hit. If Harkin left this issue out of his bill, it might make writing a new farm bill easier.

"To be frank with you, I haven't made a decision whether to include it (payment limits) in the chairman's mark," he said, referring to the bill he would submit to the committee to consider.

"Maybe the best way to do this is on the floor" of the Senate.

Harkin believes that payment limits have broad bipartisan support in the Senate, so the farm bill could be amended to include them when the full Senate considers the bill.

"I think that it's clear. Payment limits are going to happen," he said.

Harkin made it clear, though, that he does intend to make major changes in the next farm bill.
"This new farm bill is not going to be your old-fashioned farm bill as we've known it in the past," he said.

Harkin wants to spend a lot more money on conservation programs and on developing bioenergy. He'd like to have programs that help farmers make a transition to growing energy crops such as switchgrass, one of many possible sources of cellulosic ethanol.

Harkin said that it won't be possible to finish writing a farm bill until the Senate decides how much money to spend on it. He'd like the Senate Budget Committee to add back some $16 billion that has been saved from current commodity program spending, compared to projections when the 2002 bill was passed. And he'd like the $4 billion that the Administration cut from conservation spending made available for the farm bill. He said the committee can't do much on the farm bill before having budget numbers for potential spending, probably at the end of March or in April.

Agree with Senator Harkin? Disagree? Post a comment here or contact John Crabtree,

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action


  • At 9:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    this sucks, i always thought harkin had more guts than this

  • At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I cannot imagine why anyone would think that Senator Harkin will actually reform his own farm bill. He will not send his draft farm bill (the chairman's mark) with payment limits, because in the end he has no intention of ever having payment limits in the farm bill.

  • At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    give me a break, peterson says that we need the southerners to pass a farm bill? and harkin agrees with him? try the other way around, southern agriculture cannot survive without a commodity program propping up cotton and rice production - they need our support for a farm bill. why do midwesterners have so much trouble recognizing power when they have it?
    whiting, iowa

  • At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That seems logical to me, that we will need the support of southerners to get a farm bill passed, why is that so hard to believe?

  • At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    USDA subsidies in United States totaled $164.7 billion from 1995-2005.
    IOWA, SEN HARKIN'S State, Received the 2nd largest amount of $... in farm payments.

    It was only $14,777,910,789.....

    And guess what state received the most in farm payments... You guessed it... TEXAS.

    For once the republicans & democrats agree on something.

    I hate to say it, but I don’t see any change in the 2008 farm bill.
    Let’s all go back to work so that we can pay for the farmers who want everything for free.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am sure that there are some legitimate recipients. Although it seems that I am having a difficult time in finding any.

    You have correctly stated it in the first post: THIS SUCKS

    Comment by,
    Silver Leaf

  • At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i think the previous post describes, very well, why Midwest members of Congress don't need to work very hard to get the support of southern members of Congress for the farm bill - the Southerners HAVE to support the farm bill, cotton and rice production are even more addicted to federal subsidies than corn, wheat and soybeans - my point previously was that Peterson and Harkin do not need to work so hard for southern support, because it is not like the southerners can OPPOSE the farm bill, they depend on it too much - actually, the southerners ought to be looking for concessions they can make to win the support of Midwest, Northeast and Western members of Congress...
    whiting, iowa


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