Grassley’s statements submitted for the Congressional Record upon introduction of the bill: “As the Senate Agriculture Committee continues working on the next farm bill, one thing seems to be clear. The Title I safety-net is going to look quite different than current programs.

“It appears the direct payment program may be done away with entirely. Some of my colleagues and agriculture groups have proposed a variety of new ideas as possible replacements to the current commodity title.

“No matter what commodity program we create, my bill sets the marker on payment limitations. I introduced a similar payment limits bill last year, but this bill should better address whatever type of safety- net program we adopt going forward.

“The premise remains the same. We need firm payment limit. And we need to close loopholes. I support having a safety net for farmers. This nation enjoys a safe and abundant food supply. Certainly a lot of that can be attributed to the ingenuity and hard work of the American farmer. But the farm safety net helps small and medium-size farmers get through tough times that are out of their control.

“We need an effective safety net to assist farmers. But equally important is for Congress to develop a defensible safety net. I will continue to work with my Agriculture Committee colleagues to figure out what type of program will be most effective.

“We already know the steps that need to be taken to make it more defensible. Defensible means setting firm caps on the farm payments any one farmer can receive. The current approach does not have any overall cap.

“There’s nothing wrong with farmers growing their operations. But big farmers shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars to get even bigger. When the largest 10 percent of farmers receive 70 percent of farm payments, something is wrong. There comes a point where some farms reach levels that allow them to weather the tough financial times on their own. Smaller farms do not have the same luxury, but they play a pivotal role in producing this nation’s food.

“If you want to witness how farm payments to big farmers create a barrier for small and beginning farmers, look at land prices.

“The current system puts upward pressure on land prices making it more difficult for small and beginning farmers to buy ground. This is not unique to Iowa. This upward pressure on land prices is occurring in many other states.

“This bill proposes an overall cap of $250,000 for a married couple. In my state, many people would say this is still too high. But I recognize that agriculture can look different around the country, and so this is a compromise. Strong payment limits will ensure farm payments are helping those who payments were originally created for, the small and medium-size farmers.

“Having an overall cap is more defensible from a federal budget stand point as well. This nation needs to make tough decisions regarding all government programs. And we need to find savings across the board. Setting strict caps on all commodity programs should be a no-brainer as we look to find savings and increase accountability in farm programs.

“Having a defensible safety net also means closing loopholes in the current law. For all the rhetoric that comes out of Washington, D.C., about eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse, making sure non-farmers don’t game the system is a common sense step to take.

“It’s simple, if you are not a farmer, you shouldn’t get a farm payment. The bill I introduced last year, and this bill, has language that closes the loopholes.

“After I introduced the bill last year, we received some questions regarding the language from two camps of people. The first camp of people I would say were critical because they don’t want the loopholes closed. They would have us turn a blind eye to the fact people game the system. They would have us turn a blind eye to the fact we have non-farmers who claim to help ‘manage’ the farm by participating in one or two conference calls a year. To those people, I cannot satisfy your concerns. I will not turn a blind eye to abuses. These are loopholes that need to be closed.

“To the other camp of people, who have provided constructive feedback, I would say, we have listened. The revisions we made addressed the issues raised. We have improved the language closing the loopholes. This bill provides a tangible, workable, and fair approach. Closing these loopholes is the right thing to do for the American taxpayer. And it’s the right thing to do for the American farmer.

“Hard caps on farm payments and closing loopholes should be supported by anyone who wants an effective and defensible farm safety net.

“As the Senate Agriculture Committee heads toward a mark-up of the farm bill, I invite my Senate colleagues to join me in supporting this bill.”