Dayton concerned about some provisions of bill

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 2, 2002

U.S. Senator Mark Dayton said Wednesday that he was pleased that a House-Senate conference committee finally hammered out the farm bill. But he also expressed his concerns over major cutbacks of the provisions proposed by the Senate.

The agreement reached by the committee defines a $73.5-billion federal funding program for farmers, including price guarantees, subsidies for conservation efforts and funding for rural development.

Dayton said his disappointment derives from an increase in the funding limit from $275,000 a year proposed by the Senate to $360,000. The limit was aiming to target assistance to small and medium-size family farms rather than huge agribusiness firms.

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Reduced loan rates and the guaranteed minimum return for farmers subsidized by the government are another frustration of Dayton. The Senate proposed $3 per bushel for wheat, $2.08 for corn and $5.20 for soybeans, but the conference bill determined them at $2.80, $1.98 and $5.

Dayton also pointed out the $2.3 billion disaster assistance provision was eliminated in the committee.

“With the passage of this new farm bill, Congress has made much-needed changes in that policy,” Dayton said.

“But, I can’t help but be disappointed that House negotiators refused to accept a bill that looked more like the one we passed in the Senate earlier this year. If they had, I could call this a great bill, instead of just a good bill.”