A Minnesota Congressman who is playing a key role in enacting a new Farm Bill was in Iowa City over the weekend for a forum on the issue. Collin Peterson met with farmers and advocates for providing food assistance to those who can’t afford it. Peterson, the House Agriculture Committee’s top-ranking Democrat, says farmers would suffer greatly if they were not provided government help in paying crop insurance premiums.

“In my opinion, if you don’t have some sort of crop insurance product available to ordinary people and a reasonable target price floor, what you’re going to end up with is rich people with deep pockets farming and nobody else. That’s what you’re going to end up with and that is bad for the country and I’m not going to be part of it,” Peterson said.

Although he’s uncertain when Congress will finally pass new farm legislation, Peterson is predicting no cuts in the federal food assistance program known as SNAP. Peterson said Iowa food stamp recipients shouldn’t be overly concerned. “Nothing is going to change in terms of their qualifications here in Iowa,” Peterson said.

“The only thing that’s going to happen is that when Obama did the stimulus bill…in that bill was an increase in SNAP benefits that were supposed to help people during this recession. Those expire in September or October of this year. Those are going to expire. They’re not going to be extended.”

The Farm Bill forum was organized by Iowa Second District Congressman Dave Loebsack. The Republican led U.S. House on July 11 approved a trimmed-down version of the Farm Bill, leaving out “food stamps” and other federal nutrition programs. The Senate previously approved its own version of the legislation.

A one-year extension of the Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September.