A federal law passed nearly two decades ago that was supposed to ensure only farmers got federal farm payments apparently isn’t working. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says a General Accounting Office report found the U.S. Department of Agriculture “doesn’t have measurable standards in place” to ensure the recipients of farm payments are actually engaged in farming. Grassley says it’s a standard that needs to be measurable. Grassley says farmers receive some 15-billion dollars a year in federal farm program payments. After concerns of farm payments going to those not involved in farming, Congress passed the Farm Program Payments Integrity Act of 1987 to limit payments to individuals actively engaged in farming. Grassley says more reform is clearly needed, adding, as federal farm payments continue to inch upward, support for the safety net is spiraling downward. Grassley says “Even folks who make just a few calls a year to act like they’re playing a very active role in farming, when they aren’t, can still end up getting taxpayer money which was designed to help small and medium-sized farmers.” The republican says “You shouldn’t have to question if folks receiving farm payments are actually the people with dirt under their fingernails. It’s time for Congress to make sure only family farmers receive these payments.” During the budget debates of the last two years, Grassley sponsored legislation to limit farm payments, including a bipartisan amendment that passed the Senate 66 to 31. Grassley says the amendment was critical to family farmers in Iowa and when the farm bill failed to effectively address this issue, Iowa was hurt.
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