Debate is underway in the U.S. Senate on legislation that could greatly influence Iowa’s number-one industry. From what he’s seen of the farm bill so far, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says it will bring positive changes to the agricultural landscape, including the potential elimination of government subsidies to farmers.

“I like what I hear but we haven’t got down to the serious stuff of amending,” Grassley says. “That may start today. We may even have some votes on amendments today. If the bill passes the Senate the way it came out of committee, I would be very happy.”

The current farm bill expires at the end of September. The new measure would authorize programs for the next five years.

Grassley says, “I’ve got some amendments I might offer and if they’re adopted, that might make it even better, but I’m not going to complain if I don’t get additional amendments adopted.”

Some members of Congress say the farm bill represents the most significant reform in agricultural policy in decades and Grassley agrees, it has potential. “I’m going to pursue trying to limit the number of amendments so we end up with a bill that’ll probably be the only bill to pass Congress this year that’s going to cut back programs, $23-billion cut back in this bill,” Grassley says.

“It does away with direct payments and maintains the crop insurance program.” The end of subsidies has been sought for years as they pay farmers regardless of crop prices.

Crop insurance programs would be expanded so farmers could still be compensated in cases of weather disasters like drought or flood. Grassley says he also wants to put a firm cap on the amount farmers can earn from farm programs.