DTN Editors

OMAHA (DTN) -- The National Family Farm Coalition and the Center for Rural Affairs have been quite vocal in their support of lower farm bill payment limitations. They say that large, virtually meaningless payment limitations only encourage the big to get bigger... usually at the expense of smaller family farms. The conference committee's farm bill is a disappointment to both groups.

"Washington has ignored the reality facing farmers and their rural communities; record low commodity prices, dwindling farm credit and continuing loss of family farms," said Bill Christison, president of NFFC, in a news release.

Christison said the winners in this farm bill are corporate agribusiness, not american farmers. "This entire farm bill is based on the myths that trade will save the American farmer, yet history has shown that exports have not delivered on that promise."

Continuing a Freedom to Farm-type system will compound the inequities of the 1996 Farm Bill, Christison said. "Those farmers (and absentee landlords) that had been getting large payments will continue to receive them, while those left out of the system will fall further behind. Ten percent of the nation's largest farms will receive 60% of the payments while the lowest 50% receive little or no payments," he said.

NFFC is urging members of Congress to reject the farm bill. The Center for Rural Affairs also is on that bandwagon. By raising marketing loan rates, The Center said in a press release, the conference committee farm bill shifts a larger share of income support payments to marketing loan gains -- the form of payment on which there is no cap. Second, it raises the limit on other income support payments from $160,000 to $210,000 ($80,000 on fixed direct payments and $130,000 on counter cyclical payments).

"As a result, the nation's largest farms will receive multi-million dollar payments. Even the limits that do exist are raised to levels that accommodate all but the nation's very largest farms. In the Midwest and Northern Plains, the limit on counter cyclical payments would affect only a fraction of one percent of the largest farms."

The Center provided this estimate on the number of acres needed to reach proposed fixed and counter cyclical payment limits.

Fixed Direct Fixed Counter Cyc Counter

Payment Direct Payment Cyc.

Limit Payment Limit Payment

Limit Limit

Commodity Husband/Wife Parents/2 Husband/Wife Parents/2

Sons or Sons or

Daughters Daughters

Corn/Soybeans 4,381 13,143 6,510 19,530


Cotton (67%) 3,439 10,317 3,022 9,066

Wheat (33%)

Rice/Soybeans 1,470 4,410 3,348 10,044


Wheat, 7,897 23,691 16,560 49,680



Cotton (CA) 1,321 3,963 1,043 3,129

This assumes the national average yield for each commodity, except the state average yield for California cotton is used. Fixed and counter cyclical payments are calculated on 85 percent of base acres at 93.5 percent of actual yield, as provided by the farm bill agreement. The Center assumed 16.67 percent of production and payments go to landlords, as would be the case when 1/3 of the farm operator's land is rented on a 50/50 crop share.

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