Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin of Iowa and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and several colleagues have introduced legislation to clarify a provision from the 2008 farm bill that the Department of Agriculture is implementing contrary to Congress' intent on people who had less than 10 crop base acres. The Senators stand firm that the farm bill explicitly lays out the intent, but said that legislation was necessary so small farmers aren't caught in the cross-fire during the short term.
The Department's interpretation would eliminate producers from receiving direct, counter cyclical, or ACRE payments, if the farm has 10 crop base acres or less. The manager's report of the farm bill specifically included language to ensure that small farm acreages could be aggregated to allow for farm program payments if the sum of the base acres is over 10.
Specifically, the legislation suspends for crop years 2008 and 2009 the provision of the farm bill that prohibits direct, counter cyclical, and ACRE payments on commodities and peanuts if the sum of the base acres on the farm is 10 acres or less.
The legislation also extends the 2008 crop year signup until December 31, 2008 for direct and counter cyclical payments. The bill ensures that no penalty to benefits can be assessed by the Department of Agriculture against producers who fell into this 10 acre prohibition for failure to submit reports or timely comply with other program requirements if using the extended sign up period.
Senators who cosponsored the bill along with Grassley, Harkin and Chambliss were Senators Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Larry Craig of Idaho, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Susan Collins of Maine, Hillary Clinton of New York, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Max Baucus of Montana.