In a bipartisan effort, Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Tim Johnson, D-S.D., have introduced the Rural America Preservation Act of 2012. This marker bill is intended for inclusion in the new Farm Bill.
A bill that Grassley has introduced several times in the past, this legislation caps annual farm payments and defines who qualifies for payments. The Grassley-Johnson bill requires active management and/or personal labor on the farm operation via a “measureable standard.”
It is designed to assist small and medium-sized working farmers, as they grow and raise a safe and affordable food supply.
With the introduction of S.2217, the senators intend to reduce imbalances in the federal farm payment system.
Even though his home state of Iowa has many large operations, Grassley wants to stop rewarding very large producers that leave less for small and mid-sized family farms. He intends to clamp down on concentration and anti-competitive practices that penalize independent producers. He also wants to help beginning farmers get a good start in their capitol- and labor-intense profession and more.
Under this legislation, married couples would receive up to $250,000. Singles would receive up to 150,000. This includes $150,000 for married couples or $75,000 for individuals in marketing loan gains and loan deficiency payments. The rest of the dollars include safety-net payments.
The bill sets a standard for someone to qualify as actively engaged in farming by providing management for the operation. It includes an exception for farming operations with only one manager of the farm. The bill is designed to close loopholes and keep non-farmers from receiving federal payments.
When payments are made to absentee passive investors, small and medium size farms tend to dry up.
Almost everyone who lives in rural areas has witnessed the effect of fewer family farms. Communities lose their economic base and population. Schools, churches and businesses close or consolidate. We push young people away from a future in rural America.
Supporting many types of farming operations – along with a diversity of crops – is needed to make communities strong. The Rural America Preservation Act provides an opportunity for small and medium-sized working farms to succeed and should be included in the next Farm Bill.