Ag Policy Blog
Jerry Hagstrom DTN Political Correspondent

Thursday 08/01/13

A Vow to End Direct Payments

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., got reassurances from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., that she would oppose any continuation of the direct payments program in the farm bill conference, but he declined to commit himself to vote for the farm bill, saying only that he would oppose an extension that includes direct payments.

In a scheduled colloquy on the Senate floor before the Senate adjourned until September, Flake noted that the Senate-passed farm bill eliminated the $4.9 billion in direct payments that crop farmers get annually whether prices are high or low, but that the House-passed bill includes “a carve out” that continues direct payments to cotton farmers at a rate of 70% in 2014 and 60% in 2015.

Flake noted that the Congressional Budget Office said the payments to cotton farmers would cost $823 million and said he was seeking Stabenow’s commitment to protect the Senate’s elimination of the program in conference.

“I strongly agree we should not be spending taxpayer dollars to fund these direct payment subsidies, and I will do everything I can to make sure the conference committee adopts the Senate version of this issue,” Stabenow said.

But she added that if the farm bill isn’t signed into law by Sept. 30, direct payments may continue, “So I hope we can count on your support to make sure we can pass the farm bill on time and eliminate direct payments.”

Flake replied that “the Senate farm bill leaves much to be desired.”

“In fact, to gain my support, the farm bill will need to undergo dramatic changes to remove market-distorting price supports and limit the scope of the federal government in U.S. agriculture,” he said.

Passing an extension that includes direct payments, Flake added, “would be a costly regression in light of the Senate’s bipartisan effort to eliminate this multibillion-dollar subsidy.”

“The chairwoman has my commitment to do everything I can to ensure that any legislation that should come before the Senate containing an extension of direct payments will be met with my fierce opposition.”

-- Jerry Hagstrom

Senate Names Conferees

Late Thursday, Sen. U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, issued a statement regarding Senate conference members for the farm bill The Senate naming its members to the conference again reflects that chamber's desire to move ahead and complete the legislation.

“I appreciate Republican Leader McConnell appointing conferees prior to the August recess and setting the stage for us to try to finalize a 2013 farm bill. Reconciling differences between the Senate and House will be a challenge, but it is a job that needs to be done for an important sector of the American and global economy. I look forward to it.

“We have such a good depth of knowledge on our side of the table with Senator Roberts and Senator Chambliss, both of whom are former heads of the Agriculture Committee. Senators Boozman and Hoeven are also very knowledgeable and active members of our committee, and I look forward to working with them during conference.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday evening named the following conferees to reconcile differences in farm bill legislation approved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

Democrats: Stabenow and Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Max Baucus of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Michael Bennet of Colorado.

Republicans: Cochran and Sens. Pat Roberts of Kansas, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, John Boozman of Arkansas and John Hoeven of North Dakota.

--- Chris Clayton

Posted at 7:56PM CDT 08/01/13 by Jerry Hagstrom
Comments (4)
Nothing like a republican Sen. to threaten the entie midwest crop producers .Direct payments was one of thier great ideas along with LDP which were designed to not help the corn price. Replace it with a $5.00 non recourse loan that gets repaid plus interest .A 3 bil. bu. corn reserve with a 130% release price only makes sense in light of last years crop shortage.This might be too hard for the republicans and their corporate livestock friends to comprehend.
Posted by melvin meister at 7:29AM CDT 08/05/13
I believe you are correct on the Direct Payment origination, Melvin. Tell the whole story. D. Payments was designed as a 7 year, decreasing program payment. At the 7 year mark, it was supposed to be gone. However it was so popular with the Liberal Spendaholics to get re-elected, it is still around. Prior to or around the same time, a $25,000 payment cap was put in place on farm subsidies. I do not think that lasted a year. One can place blame if one chooses, but that is compounding the problem, not helping reach the solution.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 6:05AM CDT 08/06/13
GOP goal is to bring down the government, they have passed nothing and no solutions, only destroy the country by this Tea Jihad.
Posted by Jay Mcginnis at 6:44AM CDT 08/06/13
Some of you should read the Political Party Platforms. Then express your opinions based on information, rather than coffee shop rhetoric.
Posted by Bonnie Dukowitz at 10:04AM CDT 08/06/13
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