- Tales from the Trough: IceHogs rebound with four straight wins
- Clean water groups, small business owners, community leaders celebrate Clean Water Act
- Police investigate death of 71-year-old man who was struck in October while riding in his wheelchair
- Woman gets 10 years for 2013 involuntary manslaughter
- Secretary of State Police to target abuse of disability parking on Black Friday
- Illinois Commerce Commission approves 500-mile direct-current electric wind power line
- Meet John Doe: Rockford could benefit from the new Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute in Chicago
- Tech-Friendly: Surface Pro 3 ad comparing it to MacBook Air is a joke
- Chicago restaurateur Billy Lawless to introduce Obama during immigration speech in Chicago
- Travel Wisconsin Snow Conditions Report assists snow seekers
Rural America needs farmers … and farm program reform
Thanks to U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, both the Senate and House versions of the farm bill include a strict limit on farm program payments. Some Farm Bill Conference Committee members want to remove those farm limits, but that would be a mistake.
Here in rural America, we need more farms and more farmers, not the opposite. Without effective payment limits, however, the nation’s largest farms will continue to use virtually unlimited payments to bid up land costs and drive their smaller neighbors out of business — and prevent beginning farmers from ever getting a start.
Sen. Grassley and Rep. Fortenberry have championed common-sense reforms that would close loopholes that define who is “actively engaged” in farming to prevent non-farmers from gaming the farm program. Their reforms would also put reasonable caps on the total payments any one farm can receive. They won the votes in the House and Senate, democratically, not behind the closed doors of the Farm Bill Conference Committee. Their victory is a victory for all of rural America, and their amendments should remain in the final Farm Bill.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently voiced a soft position on this issue. But I disagree with him; there are small and mid-sized farms across the country that want and need reform. You can farm as many acres as you want, but at a certain point, you need to go talk to the bank and not rely on taxpayer subsidies.
Chris Petersen, farmer and past president, Iowa Farmers Union
Clear Lake, Iowa
From the Jan. 29-Feb. 4, 2014, issue