Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) recently introduced legislation to tighten payment limits on federal farm programs and close loopholes mega-farms use to evade those limits. Mega-farms use unlimited farm program payments to bid up land costs, thereby driving smaller, family farmers out of business and barring beginning farmers from ever getting started.
The Farm Program Integrity Act seeks to level the playing field for farm families by establishing meaningful payment limitations on the nation’s largest and wealthiest farms - $75,000 ($150,00 per couple) for marketing loan gains and up to a grand total of $125,000 ($250,000 per couple) for all safety-net payments combined.
Additionally, the bill closes loopholes that allow people with ties to farmland whose management consists of little more than an occasional phone call from receiving farm payments by setting a measurable standard for someone to qualify as actively engaged in farming by providing management for the operation, and an exception for farming operations where there is only one manager of the farm.
This legislation represents the most important step Congress can take to strengthen family farms - limit the subsidies that mega-farms use to drive smaller operations out of business.
We applaud Representative Fortenberry for introducing this legislation and Senator Grassley for introducing the Senate companion bill earlier. We’re also encouraged by Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) including these provisions in the draft Farm Bill she proposed the first week of May.
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