Grassley Gets Specific About Ag in Budget Markup

The Senate Budget Committee met Thursday to mark-up and vote on the Concurrent Resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2014. During the meeting - Iowa 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 dollars in agricultural savings sought by the Budget Committee. He added that contrary to what Budget Chair Patty Murray's proposed budget says - all farm bill spending will be on the table for spending reductions - including nutrition programs. Grassley says it's only logical that all elements of farm bill spending will need to be reduced - not just commodity programs and crop insurance. He says ag program reforms like his payment limits initiative will be necessary to meet the spending reduction goals.

Grassley is a senior member of both the Budget and Agriculture Committees. He raised questions because the Murray budget plan calls for 23-billion dollars 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, ag research and certain farm loans. It doesn't include conservation or nutrition programs - which are also funded through the farm bill. According to the Congressional Budget Office - spending on nutrition is about 76-percent of farm bill spending while commodity programs and crop insurance account for about 15-percent of farm bill spending.

Grassley has long supported farm program payment limits. Last year - his initiative was included in the farm bill passed under the leadership of Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow. Stabenow has indicated she will continue to support Grassley's reform - which saves an estimated 177-million dollars 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.

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