Senator Chuck Grassley has introduced three amendments to the farm and nutrition bill being debated before the Senate. Grassley is one of two working family farmers in the United States Senate and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
Nearly 80 percent of the funding for the farm bill is geared toward nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps), the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and various food assistance programs for seniors and children. Only 20 percent of the funding for the farm bill is directed toward agriculture programs.
Grassley’s first amendment would protect livestock and poultry farmers from having their personal information released by the EPA. It does not prevent the EPA from collecting the information about where farmers’ operations are located. It also does not prevent EPA from disclosing information in the aggregate.
Grassley’s amendment stems from the EPA’s release of the personal information of over 80,000 livestock and poultry owners from across the nation to three activist groups. A large portion of the data disclosed to the activist groups did not meet the definition of a Consolidated Animal Feeding Operation.
The data collected on farmers from Iowa, the EPA disclosed information on people who owned as few as one pig, and another individual who owned 12 horses.
Grassley’s second amendment would hold peanut farmers to the same cumulative $50,000 payment limit that applies to farmers growing other crops. In current law, and in the underlying bill, peanut farmers essentially can double their farm payments if they grow peanuts and another type of crop.
Grassley’s third amendment would create a Special Counsel at the Department of Agriculture. The Special Counsel would be charged with analyzing mergers within the food and agricultural sectors, in consultation with the Chief Economist of the Department of Agriculture, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice, and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.
In addition the Special Counsel would investigate and prosecute violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act.