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Grassley Wins Support for Payment Reform and Even-Handed Farm Bill Spending Reductions

WASHINGTON – During work today in the Senate Budget Committee on a budget resolution for fiscal 2014, Senator Chuck Grassley affirmed that his initiative to reform farm program payments will be part of the Agriculture Committee’s effort to achieve $23 billion in agricultural savings sought by the Budget Committee and that, contrary to what the Budget Committee Chairwoman’s proposed budget says, all farm-bill spending will be on the table for spending reductions, including nutrition programs.

Click here to watch the discussion this morning among Grassley, Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow.

“It was important to lay down these markers for good governance and budgetary reality,” Grassley said, “Ag program reforms like my payment limits initiative will be necessary to meet goals for spending reductions.  And it’s only logical that all elements of farm-bill spending will need to be reduced, not just commodity programs and crop insurance, which account for less than one-fifth of all farm-bill spending.”

Grassley said he raised questions because the Murray budget plan calls for $23 billion in savings from Function 350, which is only one of three functions in the budget resolution for agricultural spending.  Function 350 includes commodity programs, crop insurance, agricultural research, and certain farm loans.  It does not include conservation programs or nutrition programs, including food stamps, which also are funded through the farm bill.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, spending on nutrition is about 76 percent of farm bill spending.  Commodity program and crop insurance account for about 15 percent of farm bill spending.

Grassley’s initiative to limit farm program payments (more here), which he has sought over a long period of time, was included in the farm bill proposed and passed last year under Stabenow’s leadership of the Agriculture Committee.  Stabenow indicated today that she would continue to support Grassley’s reform, which saves an estimated $177 million by limiting farm program participation to small and mid-sized farmers and closing loopholes in current law that enable non-farmers to collect farm program payments.  Grassley raised the issue by pointing out that the Murray budget plan calls for $10 billion more in savings than was achieved by last year’s farm bill, which saved $13 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Grassley serves as a senior member of the Senate Budget and Agriculture committees.

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