A Lump of Coal in Rural America’s Stocking

Every December is a time of anticipation. Children eagerly await Santa’s arrival and this year family farmers and many others awaited the fate of the Dorgan-Grassley amendment. But to our dismay, rural Americans got a lump of coal in their stockings.
The United States Senate voted down real reform.  The Dorgan-Grassley payment limitations amendment failed despite support from a clear, bipartisan majority of 56 Senators because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) sided with opponents of reform, requiring a super majority of 60 votes for passage.

The Dorgan-Grassley amendment would have closed loopholes that allow million dollar farm subsidies, placed a hard cap of $250,000 on payments and invested the savings in beginning farmers, rural entrepreneurial development and other initiatives to create a future in rural America.

Still feeling the sting of betrayal, many of us are trying to reason how a handful of senators who speak routinely of doing the right thing ended up selling out rural America…again.  The defeat of payment limits virtually guarantees that the price of farmland and cash rents will continue to rise, burying any hope for young farmers to have a chance to farm and ranch.

Senators Conrad (D-ND), Salazar (D-CO), Stabenow (D-MI) and Voinovich (R-OH) – Midwest and Great Plains Senators who reversed years of support to vote against Dorgan-Grassley – bear the most responsibility for continuing the policy of destroying family farming and undermining rural communities by providing unlimited subsidies that the nation’s largest farms use to drive their smaller neighbors out of business.

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