Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has again introduced legislation that would cap farm payments at $250,000 per entity as a means to reducing the federal budget deficit, though he does not expect the Senate to take immediate action on it.
The Rural America Preservation Act (S. 3701), which was cosponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), proposes limits of $40,000 on direct payments, $60,000 on counter-cyclical payments and $150,000 on loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains, including gains on generic certificates and forfeited commodities.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the 2008 farm bill imposed a $40,000 limit on direct payments, excluding peanuts. Counter-cyclical payments were capped at $65,000, excluding peanuts.
The 2008 farm bill does not impose limits on payments for loan deficiency and marketing loan gains.
The bill also includes an "active farmer" requirement which the two senators said will ensure that the recipients are actively engaged in farming and prevent large agribusinesses and non-farmers from receiving federal payments that might otherwise benefit small- and medium-sized farms. Farm Bureau opposes farm program payment limitations.
According to press releases from both senators, the bill would trim farm payments by $1 billion over 10 years.
Grassley has made proposals that payment limits be included in the last two farm bills, but neither made it to the final legislation. He said this latest proposal was introduced well in advance of the 2012 farm bill deliberation to let people know that he's not giving up on his plans to limit farm payments as a means to cut the deficit.