According to published reports, Grassley told Iowa reporters he didn’t know if his amendment was the sole reason the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee put off action on a bill reauthorizing child nutrition programs until after the first of the year, but he suspected it might be.

A spokesman for Sen. Thad Cochran, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, was quoted as saying the Mississippi senator had decided on the delay because the House wasn't planning action on the child nutrition legislation until next year.

"The word has been out since January that I plan to use every avenue possible to get farm payment limitations attached as an amendment to a bill," said Grassley, who indicated he planned to use the savings from reduced farm program payments to provide more funding for the child nutrition program.

Some analysts are saying that Grassley’s intentions notwithstanding, higher commodity prices could lead to a significant reduction in farm program expenditures in Fiscal Year 2004.

May New York cotton futures closed at 80.12 cents per pound on Wednesday, a level that if maintained through the marketing year (August-July) could lead to significantly lower counter-cyclical payments and marketing loan gains for cotton producers in 2004.

November soybean futures closed at $7.49 and December wheat futures at $3.54, prices that could signal another year in which counter-cyclical payments will not be made for those crops.

Congressional observers have said they thought Grassley would attempt to attach an amendment to the FY04 agricultural appropriations bill, but that legislation could be combined with other spending bills because of the delays in passing those measures. Such action would make it more difficult – but not impossible – for an amendment to be attached.

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