Small Acreage Farmers Eligible to Receive Federal Assistance
Washington, DC - The United States Congress passed legislation supported by Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig that will help support small farms. The legislation passed the Senate and the House of Representatives on Monday by Unanimous Consent and would temporarily suspend a 2008 Farm Bill provision eliminating commodity program support for small acreage farms. The measure suspends for one year - the 2008 crop year - a provision prohibiting commodity producers with a total of 10 base acres, or less, from receiving direct and counter cyclical program support. The bill would also extend the direct and counter cyclical signup until November 14, 2008 or 45 days after enactment, whichever is later.
In August, Crapo and Craig joined a group of 25 senators in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging the Department to implement the provision according to congressional intent by allowing producers to aggregate their base acreage to qualify for assistance. Absent resolution of the issue, Crapo and Craig also signed-on in September as original co-sponsors of similar legislation introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to suspend the provision. The temporary suspension is meant to provide time to achieve a more permanent solution to the issue while ensuring that farmers with small acreage are not prevented from receiving needed assistance.
"It was important that Congress acted swiftly to prevent producers who are working hard to meet the food and fiber needs of this nation from getting wrongly tangled in the misreading of this provision," said Crapo, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. "I look forward to working with my colleagues to achieve a more long-term solution."
"I am pleased this common sense fix was quickly approved by the House and the Senate, providing needed support to Idaho's producers," Craig said. "The 2008 Farm Bill was a carefully crafted piece of legislation, and it is important that it be interpreted and implemented as intended."
Additionally, the legislation contains modifications to the permanent disaster program enacted in the 2008 Farm Bill. The corrections address issues with the treatment of negligible acreage and grazing land.
The bill now needs to be signed by the President to be enacted.