FARM BILL: Northey Offers Suggestions

Money is at the center of this congressional fight as the federal debt tops 16 trillion dollars.

Some republicans want big cuts in farm subsidies along with food stamps and nutritional programs that all fall under the farm bill.

Democrats don’t want to see those big cuts in the food programs.

Agriculture leaders from throughout the country are in Des Moines this week, hosted by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.

While the visit is an opportunity to see future farm technology, leaders are also getting together to speak about a huge issue relating to farming.

“We’re talking about lots of different things. Certainly the farm bill was talked about. Secretary Vilsack talked to us yesterday,” said Northey.

Iowa’s head of agriculture says the group of agriculture secretaries agrees that simply getting a farm bill passed by the September 30th deadline would be ideal for all farmers.

“The main thing is that we want to know what the rules are. If we pass a series of extensions, we have no idea what the rules are.”

With just two weeks until the bill expires, that’s unlikely.

So Northey is hoping for a short term extension, giving congress could work on a 5 year deal by the end of the year.

Ideally, a deal that doesn’t include cuts to crop insurance which is an important to Iowa farmers during this drought year.

“Crop insurance right now is going to save a lot of folks from a very bad year. Farmers pay part of it, the government pays part of it and sets up those rules. That’s very important to Iowa farmers.”

With cuts needing to come from somewhere, Northey suggests cutting direct crop subsidies farmers get from the government.

In previous years, Iowa farmers have received as much as $500 million dollars in the payments.

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