Grassley's Prepared Remarks at Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Mark-Up
Prepared Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Senate Agriculture Committee
Executive Business Meeting on the 2018 Farm Bill
June 13, 2018
Chairman Roberts, Ranking Member Stabenow, I want to commend you for getting us here today. Putting together a bill of this size and complexity is no small task. This legislation will impact every citizen and nearly every acre of land in America.
There are several pieces of this legislation I like very much and support. I like that the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development program are funded. These programs are very important as they promote our products abroad to increase exports. These programs help leverage private dollars for all commodities.
I think there are some very sensible reforms to the Conservation Reserve Program that should help refocus it better on its original intent. In Iowa, we had some land owners getting over $300 an acre to put their farms into CRP.
That was making it hard for young and beginning farmers to compete for land against the government. Even well-established farmers had rented land taken away from them because it was enrolled in CRP at very lucrative rates. They were especially incensed about being outbid for land by the government knowing our national debt more than $20 trillion. I’d also like to commend Senator Ernst for her leadership on this issue.
Regarding crop insurance, I’m happy to see we maintain a strong program. That is very important to farmers in Iowa and across the country. Crop insurance lets farmers sleep better at night because they know if a drought or flooding hits their fields, they will not be knocked out of the business in one single blow.
The changes that clarify that cover crop termination shall not affect the insurability of the subsequent crop are also a welcomed inclusion. In Iowa, cover crops are becoming very popular. They help reduce nitrogen runoff, which is good for the environment and improves soil quality over time.
The commodity title of this bill is very similar to the last farm bill. There are certainly improvement that can be made as a few crops have price triggers that are set extremely high. When price triggers are set about the 10 year average price of a crop, it is hard to explain how that is a safety net and not simply a guaranteed payment.
I am happy an amendment I offered that encourages partnerships help water and wastewater utilities find innovative and low-cost solutions to meet Clean Water Act targets more effectively was included in the manager’s package.
Instead of waste water utilities building expensive water treatment plants that can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, we should encourage them to work with farmers in specific watersheds to reduce nutrient runoff to meet their targets.
I am also disappointed the base text bill does not include common sense reforms I have offered on farm program eligibility. While no bill is perfect, we hope to move things in the right direction every time we take up a piece of legislation like this.
I will also say I am dismayed we do not have a CBO score available for the underlying bill.
Things are hard for farmers out in the countryside right now and passing a farm bill would provide certainty to our farmers as Chairman Roberts has reminded me several times over the last week.
I look forward to working with the Chairman and Ranking Member.