The U.S. Senate is in recess this week, thanks to the orders of Democratic leader Harry Reid, so Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is home on his farm, helping with the harvest. Grassley, a Republican, says he and his colleagues should be in Washington, with so many important issues still on the table. The Farm Bill will go to conference committee next week and Grassley says he’ll be watching the progress carefully, especially a few key provisions.
Grassley says, “The House bill includes a provision related to the protection of producers’ identity, which is very similar to my Farmer Identity Protection Act.” Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released personal information on some 80,000 farmers and ranchers to the group “Earth Justice,” an offshoot of the Sierra Club.
Grassley says that never should have happened and he wants it spelled out in law. Grassley says, “It just makes common sense that the EPA shouldn’t be handing out the names and addresses to activist groups that oppose the way farmers make their living.” One area where there’s tremendous disagreement on the Farm Bill is the nutrition program, or food stamps.
House Republicans propose cutting the program by 40-billion dollars while Senate Democrats want to cut about one-tenth that amount. Grassley knows that’ll be a sticking point where the parties will have to seek middle ground. “I think it’s going to be a little harder to reach an agreement on food stamps than on the Farm Bill,” he says.
Grassley does not sit on the House-Senate conference committee that will work on the final version of the Farm Bill, but two other Iowans do: Republican Congressman Steve King and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin.