International trade issues on subsidy payments are a concern to the U.S. However the House Agriculture Committee chair, Texas republican Larry Combest, says quote, "If the only way for trade to expand with Brazil is to put U.S. farmers out of business, then it won't happen."
Meanwhile, Congress also is looking at the domestic side of the Farm Bill … from meatpacker ownership to capping payments on some of America's largest farms.
Congress returned from its Holiday recess this week. While lawmakers haven't renewed discussion on the Farm Bill just yet, a couple of proposed amendments are likely to spur heated debate in the near future.
Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa is pushing an amendment designed to prevent multi-million dollar payments from going to America's largest farms and wealthiest landowners. The amendment would cap government payments tied to production, or over-production say critics, at 150,000-dollars and other government payments at 75,000-dollars.
Grassley's proposal is enjoying bipartisan support from nearly a dozen key lawmakers in the Senate. It's also being praised by family farming advocates in the heartland.
Chuck Hassebrook: "This is the central issue in the Farm Program debate…"
Chuck Hassebrook is the Executive Director of the Center for Rural Affairs in Walthill, Nebraska. He claims that capping government payments is in the best interest of the family farmer.
Chuck Hassebrook: "Nothing we do in farm programs will improve the income of farm operators unless we address this issue because as long as the policy says that every time you add an extra acre you get more money from the government, then essentially every dollar of farm program benefit will be bid into higher land prices. And as long as that is the case, nothing else we di in farm policy and farm programs will help create a future for family farming and ranching and grain production."
Another issue awaiting lawmakers focuses on meatpacker ownership of livestock. An amendment banning the practice was passed before the recess last month.
That proposal was sponsored by Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota and a handful of Farm-State Senators on both sides of the aisle
The amendment prohibits packers from owning cattle, swine or sheep more than 14 days before slaughter, but it's uncertain whether the revision will survive the next round of debate.