Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is introducing an agricultural bill today he says will focus on farm payments to small and medium-sized farmers. Grassley and Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota are cosponsoring the Rural America Preservation Act. Grassley, a republican, says he’s long tried to keep large-scale corporate farmers from monopolizing federal subsidies, which hurts smaller farmers who could use a hand.Grassley says one way to save money is to put a 250-thousand dollar cap on subsidies which would save one-point-three billion dollars. Grassley says ten-percent of the farmers are now getting 72-percent of the federal subsidies, which he says shows a distinct problem. Grassley says his bill would also limit the “subterfuge” surrounding the so-called three entity rule, which allows one farm family to split itself into three so that each person has a separate cap and they get more money. Grassley says he also wants to develop a standard to determine who gets farm subsidies, ensuring it’s farmers with “dirt under their fingernails” and not just a corporate farm owner. On another topic, Grassley says he expects Michael Chertoff to win the Senate’s approval today to become the nation’s new Homeland Security chief. Grassley predicts Chertoff will be confirmed by a wide margin as he’s well qualified to take over the agency. Grassley says President Bush needs a strong leader at Homeland Security as it’s the front line to protect against department, plus, it’s a brand new department and needs “capable leadership.” Grassley says the current color-coded warning system that shows our terror alert level will likely be altered under Chertoff. Grassley says people don’t take those colored warnings seriously and that shows a weakness in our homeland security. Chertoff is a former Justice Department official and is now a federal judge. Current Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge is stepping down.
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