Johnson: Farm bill similar to previously stalled versionSouth Dakota senator is a cosponsor of recently introduced legislation that is nearly identical to the bipartisan farm bill the Senate passed last year.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., is continuing his push for a new long-term farm bill, he said Wednesday.
Johnson is a cosponsor of recently introduced legislation that is nearly identical to the bipartisan farm bill the Senate passed last year. The bill did not pass the House.
"It is unfortunate that House inaction forced us to pass an extension, but hopefully our work will inspire the House to finally consider a farm bill,” Johnson said in a news release.
Last summer’s Senate bill, Johnson said, sought to reduce the federal deficit by more than $23 billion over 10 years and support jobs for South Dakota’s ag industry. It also sought reforms to the system to strengthen crop insurance and eliminate subsidies known as direct payments.
The new Johnson-cosponsored bill includes provisions Johnson said he pushed for during last summer’s farm bill debate, including the following.
• Payment limits: The bill includes the Grassley/Johnson $250,000 total cap. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Johnson offered an amendment to cap marketing loan gains at $75,000 (doubled if a spouse is involved in the operation).
The amendment passed 75-24. The bill now includes a $250,000 cap, as has been included in legislation that Grassley and Johnson have long advocated.
• Mandatory rural development funding: Johnson cosponsored an amendment offered by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to provide mandatory funding for a variety of USDA programs including the Value-Added Producer Grant Program; the water and wastewater backlog; the Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program; and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
• Pine beetle funding: The Senate bill provides for the designation of treatment areas on national forests experiencing declining forest health from insect or disease infestation, including the mountain pine beetle.
Treatments on designated areas could be carried out with expedited processes in accordance with the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. Johnson and Sen. John Thune, RS.D., cosponsored an amendment to increase authorized funding for such treatments.
• Rural Housing Fix: Johnson cosponsored an amendment to extend eligibility for USDA’s Rural Housing Service programs for existing communities until completion of the next census.
• Maintains a crop insurance program.
• Eliminates direct payments.
• Closes loopholes: The bill includes language to ensure that actual farmers receive payments.