Last week Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, got an amendment passed during committee debate on the 2009 budget that would limit farm payments to $250,000. According to Grassley the amendment saves $640 million over five years and $1.4 billion over 10 years, and directs that savings into the nutrition program.
"The majority of the Senate gave the support to payment limits during the farm bill," Grassley says. "So it seems only right to keep pushing for passage. The bottom line is that the bills that passed the House and Senate have loopholes that make the system worse than what we've been operating under. Despite the fact that we're in the middle of conference negotiations, I'm still looking at ways to address the problems that weren't taken care of."
Grassley says he hopes the amendment will put leverage on the conferees about this issue.
"It's to keep the issue alive," Grassley says. "To keep reminding conferees that the Senate had 56 majority for this when the Farm Bill was up, and to keep hammering away wherever we can to remind people that what we have in the bill is not real reform."
According to Grassley there is a much more positive feeling in Washington about getting a Farm Bill done this spring than at any time in the past several months.