Officials with the National Cotton Council and the National Corn Growers Association also issued action requests to their members urging them to contact their senators and urge them to vote against the amendment that was expected to be introduced by Senators Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

“We are working with the Senate and the House to improve farm policy, so that the United States can ensure a stronger safety-net for growers,” said Tim Hume, president of the NCGA. “Restrictive payment limits will simply carryout the agenda of the environmental extremists who are promoting payment limits as a means of eventually eliminating farm programs.”

“Payment limits hurt all farmers,” said Hume. “Recent reports that attempt to reveal the amount of payments a grower has received, misinterpret the purpose of farm programs. Support should go to those who produce food – in 1999, for example, 47 percent of payments went to producers who contributed nearly 50 percent of program commodity production. Simply put, payment limitations hurt food production. “

The payment limitations set in S. 1731 for combined direct and counter-cyclical payments is $100,000 per person; the marketing loan and LDP limits remain the same as current law ($75,000), said Hume.

Under the proposed Dorgan and Johnson amendment, payments would be limited to $75,000 for combined counter-cyclical and direct payments, and there would be a $150,000 annual limit per crop for marketing loan payments and LDPs. The proposed amendment provides a $50,000 spousal allowance, but eliminates the three-entity rule, as well as the use of commodity certificates.

“No matter which bill your Senator may ultimately support it, it is critical that all proposals to add additional payment limit restrictions be defeated, said the National Cotton Council.

The NCC listed the following reasons for keeping the current language in the Senate Ag Committee bill:

Limitations on program benefits have been steadily reduced since 1985.

An actively engaged rule has been put in place to eliminate passive investors, and the three-entity rule was adopted to clarify the application of the limitations.

Virtually every farm bill proposal to be considered would increase payments (in some cases through constant fixed payments and in others through a combination of fixed and counter-cyclical payments) and would add new crops (oilseeds). More restrictive payment limits would prevent this added assistance from being effective. More restrictions would mean commercial-sized farms would not benefit equitably from the new legislation;

Almost every commodity and general farm organization has testified in opposition to limitations and has urged Congress to increase the limit on LDPs/MLGs in emergency legislation;

While there are differences of opinion on the program structure and delivery systems, there should be agreement that limitations are discriminatory, unworkable and add unnecessary regulatory burdens and costs to farm operations.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com.